Google’s new feature will help you find something to watch – gpgmail


Google Search can now help you find your next binge. The company this morning announced a new feature which will make personalized recommendations of what to watch, including both TV shows and movies, and point you to services where the content is available.

The feature is an expansion of Google’s existing efforts in pointing web searchers to informative content about TV shows and films.

Already, a Google search for a TV show or movie title will include a “Knowledge Panel” box a the the top of the search results where you can read the overview, see the ratings and reviews, check out the cast, and as of spring 2017 find services where the show or movie can be streamed or purchased.

The new recommendations feature will instead appear to searchers who don’t have a particular title in mind, but are rather typing in queries like “what to watch” or “good shows to watch,” for example. From here, you can tap a Start button in the “Top picks for you” carousel to rate your favorite TV shows and movies in order to help Google better understand your tastes.

You can also select which subscriptions you have access to, in order to customize your recommendations further. This includes subscriptions services like Netflix, Hulu, HBO GO and HBO NOW, Prime Video, Showtime, and Showtime Anytime, CBS All Access, and Starz.

You can also indicate if you have a cable TV or satellite subscription. And it will list shows and movies available for rent, purchase or free streaming from online marketplaces like iTunes, Prime Video, Google Play Movies & TV, and Vudu, plus network apps like ABC, Freeform, Lifetime, CBS, Comedy Central, A&E, and History.

To get started, you’ll use a Tinder-like swiping mechanism to rate titles. Right swipes indicate a “like” and left swipes indicate a “dislike.” You can also “skip” titles you don’t know or have an opinion on.

After giving Google some starter data about your interests, future searches for things to watch will offer recommendations tailored to you.

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The company notes that you can even get specific with your requests, by asking for things like “horror movies from the 80’s” or “adventure documentaries about climbing.” (This will help, too, when you can’t remember a movie’s title but do know what it’s about.)

Google’s search results will return a list of suggestions and when you pick one you want to watch, the service will — as before — let you know where it’s available.

The company already has a good understanding of consumer interest in movies and TV thanks to its data on popular searches. Now it aims to have a good understanding of what individual users may want to watch, as well.

The new recommendations feature is live today on mobile for users in the U.S.

 


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Netflix officially launches a ‘Latest’ section with built-in reminders – gpgmail


Last month, Netflix was spotted testing a new section in its TV app called “Latest,” which would connect viewers with a personalized list of upcoming content due to be released over the course of the current week and the next. Today, Netflix is formally announcing the launch of the feature with a focus on its ability to remind you of shows and movies you want to watch.

Netflix had confirmed in August that the Latest section would be available on its streaming app for TVs, including Fire TV, Apple TV, Roku, and others. But it also had a similar feature available on Android and is testing the feature on iOS, it said at the time.

Today, the company confirms the new tab will now be available on many game consoles and Roku, with smart TVs and other devices getting the upgrade in the next couple of months.

The tab itself will feature content from across categories, like drama, comedy, horror, docs, foreign, original, licensed and kids, the company notes. These recommendations will be organized into three sections: New this Week, Coming this Week, and Coming Next Week.

When you see something of interest, you can click “Remind Me” to receive a notification when the title is available to stream.

Netflix says the new feature was inspired by its popular “Now on Netflix” newsletters which help subscribers keep up with the ever-changing content slate.

The feature’s launch is significant for a few reasons.

For starters, it’s a rare addition to Netflix’s top-level navigation in its app which before was limited to Home, Search, TV, Movies, and My List. The Latest section will now get a prominent position, just beneath the Home button.

It will also be an important tool that Netflix will use to keep viewers engaged with its content so they’ll continue to pay for the subscription service. This is now more of a concern for Netflix, which recently posted a disappointing quarter, where it lost U.S. subscribers for the first time since 2011. It’s also poised to face serious competition from newcomers to the streaming market including, most notably, Disney whose soon-to-launch Disney+ will cost less than Netflix and can be bundled with Hulu and ESPN for the same price as a standard Netflix subscription.

The new addition will help to address another challenge, as well — helping subscribers figure out what to watch. Unlike traditional linear TV, Netflix doesn’t just drop you into live TV — you have to make a decision. This often leads to people scrolling for several minutes to find a show to stream, getting frustrated or overwhelmed by the choices, then just launching an old standby, like “The Office.” With reminders and notifications, Netflix can gently nudge viewers towards titles they already want to watch, which could mean less timing browsing and more time streaming.

 


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Plex is launching its own ad-supported video service, starting with content from Warner Bros. TV – gpgmail


Streaming media company Plex this morning announced it will begin to offer ad-supported video, including movies and TV, by way of a new content agreement with Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution. Though Plex has more recently expanded into new areas beyond organizing home media — including streaming TV and cloud DVRs, streaming music by way of a TIDAL partnership, podcasts, news and more — this new deal represents the first time that Plex has ever offered ad-supported content on its service that will benefit its bottom line.

At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, gpgmail broke the news that Plex was preparing to move into the ad-supported movies market.

The company at the time said it was in discussions with various rights holders and content providers, including premium networks, to bring more streaming video to its platform. Its model would be similar to Roku’s The Roku Channel, in that it would start with free, ad-supported movies and TV, then add more content, which may at some point include subscriptions.

Plex was unable to say how many movies and TV shows would be coming to Plex users by way of its licensing agreement, nor could it offer a sampling of titles due to the nature of its contract with Warner Bros. But it will have more to share on this front as the offering gets closer to launch, later this year.

The company also said it will use SpotX for programmatic ads, with more ad sales capabilities to roll out in the future. The revenue from the ad sales will be on top of what Plex already makes from its premium feature set, by way of its Plex Pass subscriptions.

Also still in the works is how, exactly, the free movies and TV will be surfaced in the Plex user interface.

Today, Plex has a left-hand side menu navigation where “online content” can be found, like TIDAL, news, podcasts, and web shows. This would be a likely destination to add the new AVOD (ad-supported video on demand) collection, but Plex may decide to redesign parts of its interface instead.

The movies and TV shows will be available to the millions of Plex users in the U.S., not just subscribers. But its larger AVOD service, which will eventually be expanded, will be global in nature.

Today, Plex has grown to around 20 million users, but it doesn’t say how many are paying customers. (As Plex told us earlier, its investors don’t want anyone to be able to “back into its revenue numbers,” but it is profitable.)

The company’s longer-term vision is to become even more of a one-stop shop for all your media – whether that’s content you own, buy or stream.

“Plex has always been about solving new media challenges, and our mission is to tame the growing chaos in the media landscape,” said Keith Valory, CEO of Plex, in a statement about the launch. “Licensing these movies from Warner Bros. enables us to offer more types of third-party content than any other platform and bring it all together in one beautiful solution. Premium ad-supported movies and shows deserve first-class treatment alongside other content that consumers enjoy daily, as opposed to being orphaned in yet another stand-alone app.”


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Media software Plex launches a new desktop app for Mac and Windows – gpgmail


Plex today is launching a new desktop application for Mac and Windows, with the goal of eventually replacing Plex Media Player as the company’s only desktop solution. The app’s arrival also signals a change in direction for the company, which will also now remove its existing Windows Store application and end support for the traditional home theater PC setup — the latter which involves a desktop computer connected to a TV or home theater.

The company explains this decision was made after examining how people were using Plex today, and found that most would have an equal or even better experience with a streaming device and its new players.

“It marks the end of an era for us, and we’d be lying if we said it wasn’t a little bittersweet,” the company wrote in a blog post about the change.

Home theater PC-style configurations are today a bit of a holdover from an earlier era where there were fewer resources to stream personal media from your PC to your TV. Today, however, Plex’s apps for streaming devices are fairly capable, and a heck of a lot simpler to set up and use by mainstream consumers.

The company also noted that the new Apple TV and Android players support nearly all the same formats and that Plex’s app for streaming devices has come a long way in recent years.

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“Modern streaming devices don’t need as much care and feeding as desktop computers. They don’t need to sleep (much), they use a tiny amount of electricity…and they don’t require nearly as much effort to get up and running. They have remotes that work wonderfully out of the box (no more fiddly custom key mappings!) In short, they’re designed for the environment in which you’re using them, and it shows,” the company explained, in hopes of fending off any backlash.

Meanwhile, the new Plex desktop app includes all the capabilities of Plex Media Player along with support for offline access. Previously called “Sync,” this feature has been renamed to “Downloads,” and lets you take your media with you. Similar support for offline media will come to Plex’s mobile apps, too, at a later date, the company said.

To use the Downloads feature, you’ll need a Plex Pass subscription. But otherwise, the new desktop app is free.

Though the desktop app is meant to replace Plex Media Player, the company says it will continue to update the software until January 2020, to allow time for everyone to make the transition.

Plex’s overall business has been changing, in recent years, to become more than just a home media organizer. Today, Plex is a DIY streaming solution that allows users to watch not just their own media across platforms, but also stream podcasts, news, web series and music from TIDAL, as well as capture and record live TV from a digital antenna.

This change has led to other closures, including Plex’s decision last year to shutter Plugins, Cloud Sync and its “Watch Later” bookmarking feature, in addition to the technically challenging Plex Cloud.

It’s unclear how successful Plex’s changes have been as the company doesn’t disclose its number of paying subscribers. However, last year, Plex said it had 15 million registered users — meaning both free and paid. In January 2019, it upped that number to 20 million and noted it had “millions” of people using Plex on a monthly basis.


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