August 11, 2022
Hello, and welcome to Protocol Entertainment, your guide to the business of the gaming and media industries. This Thursday, we’ve got an exclusive about the next move of AR pioneer Blippar, and a look at what’s new in streaming. Plus: There’s now personal injury lawyers in the metaverse.
U.K.-based AR platform provider Blippar is taking down the paywall for its Blippbuilder no-code AR creation tool: Blippbuilder will be free to use for both commercial and non-commercial projects going forward, the company exclusively told me this week.
That’s great news for agencies, enterprise clients and really anyone looking to quickly build a lightweight web-based AR experience without incurring commercial licensing fees. It’s also a sign of AR maturing, with commercial clients increasingly looking for more complex experiences that go beyond simple face filters.
Blippbuilder offers creatives a simple drag-and-drop AR editor as well as access to an existing asset library to create AR experiences. Experiences can be pushed out to the web, with Blippar taking care of the hosting.
Galaria joined Blippar in 2019, when the company emerged from bankruptcy. Prior to that, Blippar had been an AR pioneer, one of the U.K.’s first unicorn startups and a cautionary tale of being too early in the hype cycle of an emerging technology.
AR is changing, and so are the demands of clients. When brands first discovered phone-based AR, they were just looking for funny filters, or maybe an app that allows people to put a hologram into their living room.
In this new world, a no-code tool can be an easy on-ramp. By making Blippbuilder free, Blippar hopes to empower more companies to explore AR. Then, the company wants to use it as a funnel to upsell clients interested in more complex projects to its WebAR SDK.
— Janko Roettgers
How cybercrime is going small time: Cybercrime is often thought of on a relatively large scale. Massive breaches lead to painful financial losses, bankrupting companies and causing untold embarrassment, splashed across the front pages of news websites worldwide.
Disney raises Disney+ fee by $3. Disney is getting ready to introduce an ad-supported Disney+ plan in December and will use that occasion to significantly raise the price of its existing ad-free subscription tier. Subscribers will have to pay $10.99 per month to watch Disney+ without ads going forward, with the ad-supported tier costing $7.99 per month. The company made the announcement as part of its fiscal Q3 2022 earnings report Wednesday, in which it also revealed it was able to add 14.4 million new Disney+ subscribers in its most recent quarter. Altogether, Disney now has 221.1 million streaming subscribers across its Disney+, Star, Hulu and ESPN+ subscription services.
Fox wants to turn Tubi into a billion-dollar business. Fox executives continue to be bullish about Tubi, the company’s free, ad-supported streaming service. Tubi’s user base grew 34% last quarter, according to Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch, with revenue growing 45% over the past 12 months. “We will continue to invest judiciously in Tubi with our sights set on achieving $1 billion in revenue run rates in the next couple of years,” Murdoch said according to Media Play News. Fox acquired Tubi for $440 million in 2020.
Plex is trying to make TV more social. The media center app maker is adding an activity feed to its service. As part of a beta test, Plex server owners can opt in to share their watch history, ratings and watchlist activity with their friends. The ultimate goal is to help people find more content they like, according to Plex’s chief product officer Scott Olechowski, who gave me a tour of the new feature recently, and explained why the company isn’t looking to add social networking features for social networking’s sake. “It's really designed to solve a problem, not just to consume your time,” Olechowski said.
— Janko Roettgers
What the frog: Lionsgate uses AI to get rid of the F-word. The film studio used deepfake technology to get rid of a couple dozen swearing incidents in its new action thriller “Fall.”
A Nielsen buyout looks more likely after major shareholder signals support. WindAcre Partnership, which owns a 27% stake in the TV measurement company, is in talks with Elliott Management about joining its takeover bid.
Electronic Arts locks down its NFL licensing. EA on Wednesday struck an exclusive, multiyear partnership with the NFL for football-related esports. After breaking up with FIFA, the sports game publisher needed a licensing win.
TiVo-powered smart TVs could arrive in 2023. TiVo owner Xperi says it has signed up a TV maker to launch its new operating system on TV sets next year.
Nintendo faces another labor complaint. A contractor has filed a complaint with the NLRB over unfair labor practices at Nintendo and its North American contracting firm Aston Carter, Axios reported Wednesday. This is the second such complaint since April.
Walmart wants to bundle a streaming service. The retailer is reportedly in talks with multiple media companies about bundling a service with its Walmart+ membership program; any deal would likely resemble agreements with telcos that have been providing streaming services to their subscribers for free.
AppLovin gives Unity an ultimatum. AppLovin, an analytics and monetization firm widely used by mobile game firms, put in a bid to buy Unity on Tuesday. But it’s complicated by Unity’s existing agreement to acquire ironSource, an AppLovin competitor. Terminating that deal would cost about $150 million.
Google wants to bring fitness tracking to smart TVs. The company will closely integrate its Wear OS and Fitbit fitness trackers with its Google TV and Android TV platforms, it told TV makers behind closed doors last month.
You know what they say: It’s all fun and games until the lawyers get involved. Apparently, for the metaverse, that moment of reckoning has already arrived, at least if we can believe a new ad for injury law firm Morgan & Morgan. “As millions flock to the metaverse, many experience unnecessary pain and suffering,” an avatar of company founder John Morgan claims in the clip, before promising help with the results of virtual car crashes and on-the-job injuries. We all know where this ends: Virtual microwaves, warning you not to use them to warm up your virtual pets. We’ll all get the metaverse we deserve, I guess.
— Janko Roettgers
How cybercrime is going small time: People have been swindled since before man created monetary systems. These aren’t new crimes; just new ways to commit them. But as cybercrime increasingly goes small-time, those on the front lines will need new and more effective ways to fight it.
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