September 15, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday we’re taking a closer look at Amazon’s Thursday Night Football rollout. Plus: HaptX raises new funding, fan conventions are coming to the metaverse and avatars are getting legs, if only for other users.
This is a big day for Amazon: Thursday Night Football officially kicks off tonight on Amazon Prime Video with the Los Angeles Chargers facing off against the Kansas City Chiefs. The company is paying $1 billion a year for the 11-year deal with the NFL, and it’s looking to make it back with ad revenue, shopping tie-ins and some promotion of Prime itself.
This week, I caught up with Amazon Prime VP Jamil Ghani to hear more about how this all fits together and how Amazon wants to use TNF to grow Prime even more.
Amazon is having a bit of a moment right now. In addition to Thursday Night Football, Prime Video also began airing “The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power” this month.
Not too long ago, shopping would have been all Amazon talked about. The company launched its Prime membership program in 2005 and didn’t introduce Prime Video as an add-on benefit until 2011.
Ultimately, it’s all about Prime itself. Sure, Amazon would love for you to order your team’s jersey on Amazon.com. But what matters more than just a few extra bucks from those orders is Prime itself.
A billion dollars per year may seem like a lot of money, even for something as high-profile as Thursday Night Football. But if it gets more people to sign up for Prime, and perhaps gets those who are signed up to use it even more, Amazon’s Super Bowl-sized bet may end up paying for itself.
— Janko Roettgers
Software is changing payments and banks should care:At Modern Treasury, we built a platform to complement banks’ existing products to help them prepare for a future led by software. We’re here to help them future-proof their business so that they can participate in and lead in the next phase of financial services.
HaptX raises another $23 million for VR haptics. The Redmond-based startup has built a VR haptics glove that brings tactile feedback to VR, robotics and beyond. Right now, the HaptX glove still requires a lot of equipment to power the pneumatics necessary to provide up to 40 pounds of force feedback, which has put HaptX firmly into the enterprise and industrial tech realm. However, the company wants to use the new cash infusion to develop successors to its current-gen glove — and eventually, the technology may be compact and cheap enough to find its way into consumer-ready VR gloves.
Fan conventions are coming to VR. Los Angeles-based comic book store Golden Apple is organizing the first fan convention in virtual reality: FanconXR, which is scheduled for Sept. 24, will be held entirely in Microsoft’s social VR platform Altspace. Think of it like Comic-Con but in the metaverse, if you will. And a lot smaller, presumably. Still, there are some notable speakers, including George C. Romero and Blake Northcott. The whole thing is being technically supported by Big Rock Creative, which is better known for putting on the virtual Burning Man experience in Altspace.
— Janko Roettgers
Get ready for inflation gadgets. As prices for consumer goods continue to rise, gadget makers are increasingly betting on entry-level gizmos.
Netflix wants to have 40 million ad-supported viewers in 2023. The company wants to sign up 4.4 million ad-supported viewers by the end of this year and reach 40 million by Q3 of 2023. Worth noting that Netflix’s definition of “unique viewers” likely isn’t the same as its subscriber count.
Applovin has given up on its Unity deal. The company is retracting its offer to buy Unity after the engine maker made it clear that it wants to pursue its deal with IronSource.
Tubi launches a World Cup FAST channel. The free, linear streaming channel is part of Fox’s efforts to attract soccer-loving cord cutters to Tubi.
Ubisoft’s CEO says he’s not opposed to a union. Yves Guillemot told Axios that it’s up to his employees whether they want to unionize or not.
Soccer fans embrace piracy after legal streaming fails. Tens of thousands of fans resorted to pirated streams after a recent Canal+ Champions League stream was plagued by outages.
Nintendo has no plans to switch to a new console. Excuse the pun, but a bunch of announcements made by Nintendo this week show that the company wants to support the Switch for some time to come.Paramount may kill its Showtime streaming service. The company is reportedly considering bringing Showtime’s catalog to the Paramount+ app.
Good news for Meta Quest users: Your avatars will soon have legs! At least that’s what Meta CTO Andrew Bosworth suggested during a recent AMA. “Yeah we’ve been made fun of a lot for the legless avatars, and I think that’s very fair, and I think it’s pretty funny,” Bosworth told viewers of the crowdsourced interview, which was streamed on Instagram, according to UploadVR. “[W]e are working on legs,” he promised.
However, there’s a caveat: You won’t be able to see those legs. Instead, they’ll only be visible to others. “Having legs on your own avatar that don’t match your real legs is very disconcerting to people,” Bosworth explained. That’s why the company is working on avatar legs that look normal to bystanders. “But probably when you look at your own legs, [you] will continue to see nothing.”
Maybe it’s a — wait for it — step in the right direction.
— Janko Roettgers
Software is changing payments and banks should care: Activities that once took place in person or over the phone—getting a loan, making a payment, investing in a security—now occur entirely within software. Covid has only accelerated this trend. To remain a part of clients' financial lives, banks need to play well with software.
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