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NBCUniversal Enlists David Gibbons to Help Drive Digital Growth

Variety reports “David Gibbons has been hired as senior VP international operations and technology at NBCUniversal Intl., where he “will play an integral role in accelerating [its] digital growth agenda,” the company said Friday.

“He will focus on driving technological and operational excellence and building opportunities for further innovation and collaboration across NBCUniversal’s international divisions,” the company added.”

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Microsoft rolls the dice in a huge Xbox gamble

GamesIndustry reports “Microsoft’s latest quarterly results paint a picture of the Xbox’ status that’s not exactly rosy, but certainly not unexpected. Gaming revenue is down by 9%, with small but reasonable rises in software and services revenue being offset by a one-third collapse in hardware revenue. In the absence of decent hardware sales figures, which Microsoft has declined to release for some years, we can only guess at what exactly that means in unit terms, but it’s likely that this past quarter has been one of the toughest for Xbox One hardware since the system launched.”

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Will Pokémon Go help AR surpass VR in consumer adoption?

Recode reports “With all of the interest and hullabaloo around Pokémon Go and its clever use of augmented reality, one has to wonder if AR has superseded virtual reality as “the next big thing?” Or is it a one-hit wonder, and VR will continue to be where the real action is when it comes to new and improved user interfaces and immersive user experiences?”

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Alibaba Pictures Issues Warning On Losses

Deadline reports “The film unit of Jack Ma’s online giant Alibaba has issued a warning that its half year losses will be higher than expected. Alibaba Pictures Group, which had been expanding aggressively in recent months, blamed the losses on increased marketing costs at its online film ticket portal Tao Piao Piao. The losses are estimated to be between $52-58 million. The news coincides with an unexpected downturn in China’s box office.”

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Redbox is testing its second attempt at a streaming service

The Verge reports “Redbox, best known for its DVD rental kiosks, is planning to follow Netflix into the streaming business. Redbox is currently testing a new service called Redbox Digital, four months after the company indicated it wanted to put together its own streaming service. A Redbox spokesperson told Variety that the rental company was developing a “transactional digital VOD and EST offering” that it says is designed to complement its existing kiosk business.”

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Otoy gets cinematic VR to run on low-power PowerVR graphics chips

VentureBeat reports “Animation rendering software company Otoy has teamed up with graphics chip designer Imagination Technologies to enable cinematic VR to run on very low-power devices.

Otoy’s ray-tracing software, OctaneRender 4, can produce some amazing images (with 100 million rays per second) on a graphics processing unit (GPU) from Imagination’s PowerVR division, using only two watts of power. The ray-tracing performance per watt is about 10 times the level in the previous Otoy Octane Render 3 software.

This means that you’ll be able to see cool games and virtual reality imagery on low-power devices such as car dashboards, smartphones, VR headsets, augmented reality glasses, tablets, and TVs.”

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ELeague puts up $300,000 prize pool for ‘Overwatch’ tournament, will air on TBS

Mashable reports “Not even finished with its first major esports tournament, ELeague is setting itself up to host another international tournament: The Overwatch Open.

The Overwatch Open is poised to have biggest prize pool yet, capping out at $300,000 in prize money for the two-month-old game. This triples the current biggest prize pool of ESL’s $100,000 Atlantic Showdown tournament.

Similar to the ESL Atlantic Showdown, ELeague’s Overwatch Open is starting off with online qualifiers for European and North American teams, culminating with regional finals and finally the grand finals at the ELeague Arena in Atlanta.”

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Samsung welcomes Huawei to the top tier of mobile with a salvo of lawsuits

The Verge reports “When Chinese company Huawei became the third largest smartphone vendor in the world alongside Apple and Samsung, it moved into the top tier of mobile vendors. Now, it’s received the traditional welcome to this exclusive club: a round of patent lawsuits. The Chinese firm started this process itself earlier this year when it filed suit against Samsung for the Korean firm’s use of 11 standard-essential patents owned by Huawei. Now, Samsung is firing back, alleging that Huawei infringed six of Samsung’s own patents, and demanding damages of 161 million Chinese yuan ($24.1 million).”

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Verizon Nears Deal to Acquire Yahoo for $5 Billion

Variety reports “Verizon is closing in on a deal to buy the core Internet business of Yahoo, according to multiple reports Friday.

The two companies are in negotiations on a deal valued at around $5 billion, as first reported byBloomberg News, beating out bids from a range of other parties. Verizon apparently sweetened its offer: The telco had previously put in a bid of $3 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.

For Verizon, buying Yahoo would potentially accelerate its ambitions of becoming an Internet-media juggernaut rivaling Google and Facebook. Last year, Verizon snapped up AOL for $4.4 billion and in the last 12 months has entered into other deals to build out its digital-media portfolio, as the telco has looked to diversify beyond its core telecommunications businesses.”

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How the world’s biggest eSports promoter uses Facebook Live

Digiday reports “ESL One Cologne, a live eSports tournament held in Germany from July 5 to 10, drew more than 42,000 attendees during the last three days of the event. The actual competitions, which were streamed live across platforms like Twitch, Hitbox and Yahoo, drew a total of 21.7 million unique viewers with as many as 1.6 million people watching at the same time.

But for those who didn’t attend the event and wanted to get a sense of what was happening beyond the actual competitions, the event organizer, ESL, had them covered on Facebook Live. During the tournament, ESL went live six or seven times every day.”

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NBCUni International Studios Inks First Look Deal With Paris-Based Terminal 9 Studios

Deadline reports “NBCUni Intl Studios has inked a first look deal with Paris-based production companyTerminal 9 Studios to develop entertainment and factual entertainment formats for international audiences. Terminal 9 will devise new shows for NBCUni Intl. Once selected, the formats will be further developed and co-produced with the studio’s in-house unscripted production companies.

The collaboration is designed to create meaningful IP for NBCUni, and allow it to extend its footprint in France. Terminal 9’s managing director and creative director Claude Lacaze will work closely with NBCUni svp David Mortimer to develop new unscripted formats. NBCUni svp Yvonne Pilkington wll oversee their international roll-out.”

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What’s Behind Dish’s Biggest Pay TV Subscriber Loss?

The Hollywood Reporter reports “Charlie Ergen’s Dish Network on Thursday surprised Wall Street with its biggest quarterly pay TV subscriber decline ever, posting a drop of 281,000 for the April-June period, marking 200,000 more losses than in the year-ago period.

The company’s previous high for a quarterly sub loss had been 156,000 in the fourth quarter of 2010, according to Leichtman Research Group founder Bruce Leichtman. Wall Street had on average expected a subscriber decline of around 91,000. In addition, Dish posted its first quarter of broadband subscriber losses. The company’s stock was down 3 percent in early Thursday trading.”