Roku unveils a new streaming player lineup, plus Roku OS 9.2 launch, Amazon Music rolls out lossless Streaming, and other top news

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


Roku unveils a new streaming player lineup, plus Roku OS 9.2 launch

Roku  is getting a jump on the holiday shopping season with the arrival of new and updated devices. The company is expanding its media player lineup for the U.S. and abroad with updated versions of both its entry-level and high-end players, the Roku Express and Roku Ultra, respectively. It’s also introducing a new version of the Roku Express exclusively for Walmart, and a Streaming Stick that will be exclusively sold at Best Buy. Alongside the new hardware, it’s beginning to roll out an update to Roku’s operating system, with Roku OS 9.2, that focuses on improved search and discovery features, including the launch of curated search results it’s calling “Roku Zones.” On the hardware side, the low-end Roku Express ($29.99) has been redesigned to be 10% than the last version, and can now be fully powered by most TVs’ USB port to reduce clutter. And while we haven’t yet seen the results of the recent announcement of Roku’s plans to offer products to Walmart to be sold under the retailer’s own Onn brand, Roku is continuing to work with its retail partners on exclusive devices. The Roku Express+ model has dropped last year’s support for the analog inputs designed to work with older TVs, and instead bundles in the Roku voice remote for $39.99. Roku’s entry-level 4K player, the Roku Premiere, will be sold at the same price point with a standard remote.


Amazon Music rolls out lossless Streaming

Amazon is launching a new tier of its music service today, dubbed Amazon Music HD. It offers lossless versions of audio files for streaming or downloading at a price that aggressively undercuts Tidal, the main competition for this kind of audio. Amazon will charge $14.99 a month for the HD tier, or $12.99 if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. Tidal’s Hi-Fi plan costs $19.99 monthly. The new plan was rumored a few months ago. Amazon says it has a catalog of over 50 million songs that it calls “High Definition,” which is the term it’s applying to songs with CD-quality bit depth of 16 bits and a 44.1kHz sample rate. It also has “millions” (read: less than 10 million, more than one million) of songs it’s calling “Ultra HD,” which translates to 24-bit with sample rates that range from 44.1kHz up to 192kHz. Amazon Music HD will deliver them all in the lossless FLAC file format, instead of the MQA format that Tidal uses. Amazon’s VP of Music, Steve Boom, tells me that Amazon chose the HD and UltraHD terminology because it found it was more comprehensible to a mass audience than the current terminology for audio quality. And “mass audience” is exactly what Amazon is going for; it doesn’t want Amazon Music HD to be a niche player like Tidal and other lossless music platforms like HDtracks or Qobuz. Boom says that “It’s a pretty big deal that one of the big three global streaming services is doing this — we’re the first one.” Amazon Music isn’t often in the conversation about music streaming Competition, which usually ends up following a Spotify vs. Apple Music narrative. But Amazon considers itself in their company, and with the new HD offering it’s looking to differentiate itself and perhaps raise its profile.


U.S. VOD Services to Dominate Asian Market Outside China in 2019

YouTube, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video will have a combined 54 percent market share in 2019 of online video revenues in the fast growing Asia Pacific market, excluding China, where all three platforms don’t operate, according to a new study by Media Partners Asia (MPA). The report, titled Asia Pacific Online Video & Broadband Distribution 2020, forecasts that the Asian VOD market outside of China will be worth $11 billion this year. China’s industry alone is set to top $16 billion in 2019, the study finds. Overall, the Asia Pacific online video industry will generate $27 billion in advertising and subscription revenue this year, up 24 percent year-on-year from 2018. This pie is forecast to expand at a robust 13 percent compound annual growth rate to $50 billion by 2024, propelled by rising investment and competition, widening broadband access and ongoing development of local content, payment infrastructure and IP protection. MPA estimates that Netflix will have 13.2 million paying subscriptions in Asia Pacific as of year-end 2019, with the service crossing one million subs in India alone last year. While figures for Amazon Prime Video were not given, MPA said the service “has made significant progress in India and Japan where the operator has invested in local content while other Amazon services also scale.”. Taking into account Chinese digital platforms, the study lists top 15 online video operators who will account for almost 70 percent of revenues in 2019. YouTube tops the list followed by Chinese players iQiyi, Tencent Video, Youku and ByteDance, with Netflix, Amazon, Disney-owned Indian platform Hotstar, Hulu Japan and others completing the lineup.


NBCUniversal’s Streaming Service Is Called Peacock and It’s Launching Next April

NBCUniversal’s upcoming streaming service finally has a name — Peacock — and a whole bunch of newly announced programming. The long-in-the-works service will launch next April, anchored by more than 15,000 hours of content from the entertainment conglomerate’s TV and movie vaults. In addition to a previously announced deal to take back The Office from Netflix in 2021, NBCU Tuesday said that starting next fall, Peacock will also be the exclusive streaming home for the Universal TV–produced Parks and Recreation, which currently streams on Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video. The new service has also locked down deals for a slew of originals with ties to existing NBCU brands, including a reboot of Battlestar Galactica overseen by Sam Esmail (Mr. Robot), revivals of Saved by the Bell and Punky Brewster, a comedy/talk show hosted by Late Night’s Amber Ruffin, a new spinoff from The Real Housewives universe, and a new comedy from The Good Place creator Mike Schur starring The Office’s Ed Helms. There’ll also be dozens of films from the Universal library, new animated shows from DreamWorks Animation, and even reruns of Downton Abbey. Though there’s still no exact launch date, price, or details on how Peacock will be distributed, NBCU has previously said the service will be ad-supported, with anyone who subscribes to a cable package (or a virtual cable service such as YouTube TV or Hulu with Live TV) possibly being able to watch for free. There will also be a stand-alone subscription, though it’s not yet clear if there’ll be an ad-free tier. By calling the service Peacock, NBCU is drawing a connection to the company’s broadcast network, which has used a peacock in its logo for decades.


Global Over-the-top (OTT) market to garner $332.52 billion by 2025

According to the report published by Allied Market Research, the global over-the-top (OTT) market garnered $97.43 billion in 2017 and is estimated to garner $332.52 billion by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 16.7% from 2018 to 2025. The report provides a detailed analysis of changing market trends, key segments, top winning strategies, competitive analysis, and major market players. Upsurge in demand for OTT and SVoD from developing countries, availability of variety of content, rise in demand for channels of live streaming, and advancements in OTT technologies drive the growth in the global OTT market. However, lack of infrastructure for data network and latency concerns hinder the market growth. Based on component, the solution segment garnered the highest share in 2017, accounting for more than three-fifths of the total share. This is due to rise in demand for innovative OTT solutions by the consumers for media sharing applications. However, the services segment is expected to register the fastest growth rate with a CAGR of 18.3% during the forecast period. Based on device type, the smartphones segment accounted for nearly one-third of the total market in 2017 in terms of revenue. In addition, this segment is expected to grow at the fastest CAGR of 20.0% during the forecast period. The report also discusses segments such as smart TV’s, gaming consoles, laptops desktops and tablets, set-top box, and others. Based on content type, the video segment is expected to register the highest CAGR 18.3% during the forecast period. Moreover, this segment accounted for the largest share in 2017, holding more than one-third of the total share. The report offers an extensive analysis of other segments including audio/VoIP, communication, games, and others.


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