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Tech News

Amazon may add to its ‘free’ TV streaming in the UK

July 5, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Prime Video

Amazon’s next foray into video probably isn’t what you expect. No, the e-commerce juggernaut isn’t jumping into VR (that we know of), it will potentially start offering more free, ad-supported channels however. At least in the United Kingdom. According to the UK’s This is Money (an offshoot of The Daily Mail), Amazon recently posted a job listing for “head of free to air TV and advertising” based out of London. The expectation is that it’ll broadcast Premier League soccer next year for free, with traditional commercials running during the matches.

There are only so many ways to entice new subscribers to Prime, and you can all but guarantee plenty of those commercial breaks during the pitch will feature advertisements for Amazon’s growing stable of original programming. We’ve heard rumblings of a free streaming service since 2014 — with an update last November — but today’s news gives those rumors a bit more credence. Now to wait and see if and when something like this comes to domestic shores. We’ve reached out to Amazon for additional information and will update this post should it arrive.

Tech News

Amazon Prime Video is offering dubious conspiracy videos

June 18, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Josep Lago/AFP/Getty Images

It won’t surprise you to hear that streaming services are full of documentary-style videos with dodgy claims about aliens or the paranormal. Amazon Prime Video, however, is coming under fire for offering considerably worse. The Telegraph has noticed that the service includes numerous conspiracy videos from widely discredited sources like Alex Jones and David Icke. Amazon isn’t going out of its way to promote the junk theories (which include the New World Order and reptilian aliens). As a subscription service, though, it’s paying the authors for their work — unlike YouTube, it can’t just pull ads.

As Gizmodo observed, there’s also the potential for Amazon to inadvertently promote the clips through its recommendation system, which might reel in particularly susceptible viewers.

We’ve asked Amazon if it can comment. It’s legal to offer videos like this in many countries, of course. However, the findings raise concerns about what paid streaming services are willing to host. While some may object to the idea of Amazon or others deciding what they host based on the accuracy of the subject matter, they do have to think about public perception — do they want to offer award-winning shows alongside conspiracy theories that might reinforce delusions or even spur violence? Services will face criticism either way, so it’s not as simple as either pulling the plug or letting the content sit as-is.

Tech News

Amazon grabs streaming rights for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony

June 14, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Amazon Prime’s video-on-demand service just unlocked a musical milestone: it will be airing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s induction ceremony for the first time ever. HBO has been the Hall of Fame’s conventional broadcasting home, but from July 1st, devotees will be able to watch the event in over 30 countries and eight languages on any device supported by Amazon’s streaming service.

To celebrate the inauguration, Amazon Music has compiled a playlist which includes tracks from this year’s inductees: Bon Jovi, The Cars, Dire Straits, The Moody Blues and soul pioneer Nina Simone. 2018 marks the 33rd annual broadcast of the induction ceremony, which originally took place on April 14th at Cleveland’s Public Auditorium.

Amazon has been taking strides to diversify its programming as of late. Just last week, the company announced it had acquired the rights to stream the English Premier League starting in 2019. In addition to expanding its sporting coverage, Amazon also picked up Jordan Peele’s nazi-hunter series The Hunt and greenlit his docuseries on Lorena Bobbit.

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Amazon offers first details about its 'Lord of the Rings' series

June 12, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Peter Macdiarmid via Getty Images

Amazon initially said precious little about its Lord of the Rings series beyond acknowledging its existence, but details are finally starting to trickle out. In an interview with Deadline, Amazon Studios chief Jennifer Salke provided a few tidbits about the fantasy show despite its early stages. For one, there will be familiar characters. Amazon isn’t “remaking the movies,” Salke said, but nor is it is “starting from scratch.” The Prime Video production will make at least some effort to shape its own identity, then.

The studio head also acknowledged that Amazon was “right in the middle” of conversations with Peter Jackson to gauge his possible involvement in the series. The company might even shoot in New Zealand, and the company has talked to Simon Tolkien “for a couple of hours.” While none of this is certain (Amazon hasn’t even settled on its writers), it knows that it can’t ignore either J.R.R. Tolkien’s original works or the movie adaptations.

Other tidbits? Things may solidify within a month, and the current plan is for “one big series” rather than a slew of niche stories. The one certainty is that it will be a long while before Amazon has something it can show.

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The Premier League is coming to UK Amazon Prime

June 7, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

Amazon Prime Video will show live Premier League matches from 2019 in the UK. The technology giant has bought a football package that will give it exclusive TV — or in this case, streaming — rights for 20 games per season, from 2019/20 to 2021/22. These will be predominantly mid-week matches, rather than the more lucrative and expensive weekend fixtures. Earlier this year, the Premier League announced that it had sold five out of seven TV packages in the UK. BT bought one bundle, worth 32 games, while Sky secured four, representing 128 matches. Today, the league organiser confirmed that Amazon and BT have secured the final two TV packages.

Like Amazon, BT’s final TV package comes with 20 live games. That brings the broadcaster’s total to 52 fixtures per season — up from 42 under its current contract — from 2019/20. Volume, of course, isn’t everything. Broadcasters want the best games, featuring the most popular teams, to entice new subscribers. The packages sold in February are for weekend games, and come with a medley of first, second, third, fourth and fifth “picks.” The final two announced today, meanwhile, have no such system — Amazon and BT will simply be given a selection of mid-week fixtures to air.

For Amazon, though, it’s a start. Premier League TV rights are ludicrously expensive to secure — even one match package is no cheap investment. The fixtures will join the 37 ATP tennis events that Amazon acquired in November last year. That’s on top of the company’s documentary splurge, which includes plenty of American football and a still-in-development series on Manchester City FC. These, however, are in direct competition with Netflix, which has already produced its own premium soccer and American football series. Live sports, though, are a big differentiator from its streaming rival, and a big value-add for Prime Video in the UK.

And if you’re a football fan? It’s good news if you already own Prime, otherwise you’ll need three subscriptions to watch every Premier League match soon. No wonder so many are turning to piracy these days…

Tech News

Amazon confirms it'll make 'The Underground Railroad' TV series

June 6, 2018 — by Engadget.com0

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Last year, Amazon tapped Oscar-winning writer and Moonlight director Barry Jenkins to adapt the acclaimed alternate-history book The Underground Railroad into a drama series. The tech giant must have liked what it saw, because it has given the project its formal approval and put in an order for 11 episodes. The Oscar winner worked with Netflix in the past, but that was for a single episode of Dear White People. This time, he’s directing all 11 (possibly hour-long) episodes that revolve around a young slave girl named Cora and her daring escape from a cotton plantation in Georgia through an underground railroad.

In the story’s universe, there’s a network of secret tracks, tunnels, routes and safe houses that run throughout the Southern states and can take runaways seeking freedom to the north. Cora and another slave named Caesar take the train to South Carolina, where they discover a sinister plot to use black people as experiments, all while running from slavecatchers and mobs. Amazon doesn’t have a launch date for the limited series yet, but it’s expected to premiere sometime in 2019 on Prime Video.

Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke said in a statement:

“It’s an absolute gift to have Barry Jenkins commit to directing all the episodes for our upcoming limited series The Underground Railroad. Barry’s eye for character and sustained exhilarating, emotional storytelling style ensures that this project is in the right hands. We can’t wait to get started and bring this significant story to our Prime Video audience.”