June 16, 2022
Photo: Icon Sportswire/Getty Images
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we examine Apple’s new deal with MLS and new data on Amazon Music. Plus: COVID testing, the video game.
Apple’s new partnership with Major League Soccer is more than just a big get for the iPhone maker. It’s a massive shift in how sports are being distributed, and further calls into question the future of the cable bundle. It’s also a blueprint for sports itself, as more leagues are trying to reinvent themselves to find new and younger audiences.
Apple announced a 10-year pact with MLS this week. Under the deal, Apple will carry over 1,000 soccer matches a year. A subset of those games will be made available for free to everyone via the Apple TV app, while others will only stream to Apple TV+ subscribers. Finally, a good chunk will be behind yet another paywall — a new MLS streaming service that’s exclusive to the Apple TV app.
All of this is a “VERY big deal,” according to Lightshed Partners analyst Rich Greenfield, who has been a cable bundle skeptic for some time now.
Yes, but what about all those other sports rights? MLS is the first sports league to sign a deal like this with a streamer, and cord-cutting skeptics pointed out this week that sports fans still need a cable subscription to watch the games millions of people care about.
For those sports leagues, the MLS deal could be a blueprint. That’s true for economics, with MLS laying out a multitiered approach including traditional TV, a major streaming platform and a new streaming service for soccer superfans. But it’s also about reinventing sports TV for a new generation of viewers.
— Janko Roettgers
Spotify is huge, Apple Music is a serious contender and Google has long tried to establish YouTube Music as a major player. Amazon Music, on the other hand, often gets overlooked. That’s a big mistake, if new numbers from data.ai are any indication.
Don’t expect Amazon to brag about these numbers anytime soon though. The company notoriously releases meaningless stats without absolute numbers (“more people than ever before”), and there’s little reason for Amazon to change its tune in this case. After all, why start making noise if you can be so successful without it?
— Janko Roettgers
Full-stack observability with business context enables companies to digest IT performance to easily identify where they can prioritize performance and tackle issues that strategically impact their bottom line. This correlation of technology and business data allows IT leaders to make smarter, strategic decisions based on actual business impact.
Netflix talked to Comcast, Roku about an ads partnership. The streaming giant doesn’t want to build its advertising infrastructure from scratch, so it has reportedly begun approaching potential partners.
Nreal adds Steam support to its AR glasses. Nreal owners can now stream Steam games from their PCs as part of a beta; it’s the first time Steam support has been integrated into AR glasses, according to the company.
Bill Gates slams NFTs. The Microsoft co-founder said NFTs are "100% based on greater fool theory,” referencing the financial term for flipping overvalued assets, during a talk at a TechCrunch conference on Tuesday.
Is Bethesda’s Starfield too big? Game designer Todd Howard has clarified in numerous interviews after the Xbox and Bethesda showcase on Sunday that Starfield won’t be as dramatic a departure as marketing material makes it sound, though it will have 1,000 planets to explore.
Meta’s Quest headset is getting parental supervision tools. Interestingly, parental supervision has to be requested by the teen, not the adult.
Netflix’s visual effects artists use cloud-powered workstations. Interesting: Netflix is using remote workstations running on AWS for its VFX work. Also worth noting that Netflix built this technology in 2019, before the pandemic turned us all into remote workers.
More than 1.5 billion people watch YouTube Shorts every month. Copying TikTok is paying off for YouTube, according to YouTube.Roku contract changes irk content partners. The streaming service is taking control of FAST channel streaming, and some partners fear they’re losing access to valuable data.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve taken dozens of COVID rapid tests over the past two or so years. The ritual is always the same: Swab your nose, set a timer, spend 15 minutes anxiously checking the timer and hoping for the best. What I’d like to use instead is a mobile game that lasts exactly 15 minutes, distracting me from the test, then alerting me when it’s ready and finally giving me a chance to share the results with local health officials. Just imagine how much more fun testing could be! And how much more self-test data could be captured this way. Can someone please build this? Just don’t make it a zombie or otherwise virus-outbreak-related game, because that would be too much on the freshly swabbed nose.
— Janko Roettgers
Organizations that have already started the move to a full-stack observability approach are seeing results and clear return on investment (ROI). In the AppDynamics research, 86% of technologists reported greater visibility across their IT stack over the last 12 months when implementing full-stack.
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