Comcast Debuts Xfinity Flex Streaming Service For Internet-Only Customers

Read on: Deadline.

Aiming to meet growing demand for video content by its internet-only customers, Comcast is rolling out Xfinity Flex, a new streaming service that will combine VOD, free, ad-supported live streams and access to subscription apps.
The new offering, launc…

Netflix Denies Arranging ‘Love, Death and Robots’ Episode Order Based on Users’ Sexual Identity

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Netflix is denying that the order in which viewers are presented with the episodes of “Love, Death and Robots” — its new Tim Miller and David Fincher-created adult animated anthology series — has anything to do with a user’s own sexual identity.

“We’ve never had a show like ‘Love, Death & Robots’ before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders,” Netflix said via Twitter on Tuesday. “The version you’re shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don’t even have in the first place.”

That tweet was in direct response to a thread started by Out in Tech co-founder Lukas Thoms on Monday, where he wrote: “Just discovered the most INSANE thing. The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix’s new series ‘Love Death & Robots’ changes based on whether Netflix thinks you’re gay or straight.”

We’ve never had a show like Love, Death & Robots before so we’re trying something completely new: presenting four different episode orders. The version you’re shown has nothing to do with gender, ethnicity, or sexual identity — info we don’t even have in the first place.

— Netflix US (@netflix) March 19, 2019

Also Read: ‘Umbrella Academy’ Star David Castañeda Is Just as Confused by Season 1’s Ending as You Are (Video)

Thoms included screengrabs of the order that his episodes came in versus that of a heterosexual friend, noting: “On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex.”

See below:

On the left is my account, starting with the one with a lesbian storyline, and the right is my straight friend Andrew’s account, starting with the one that has the most realistic and explicit hetero sex. pic.twitter.com/kSMuaFhSbU

— Lukas Thoms (@LukasThoms) March 19, 2019

“We’ve known for a while that Netflix personalized the marketing of their shows based on sexual orientation (trailers, cover images etc) but it’s next level weird to change the actual experience of watching it,” Thoms added. “Thought I was losing my mind trying to talk to Andrew about the show.”

When asked if the four different episode-order versions are assigned at random or by using some other kind of user data, a representative for Netflix declined TheWrap’s request for comment beyond the statement given by the streaming service on Twitter.

Thomas updated his own thread Tuesday in a tweet that said, “a friend I trust at Netflix looked into this, and apparently the episode ordering is just a 100% random A/B test that doesn’t involve any ML. Identity-based recommendations are still a good discussion to have, in this case it was just random!”

Also Read: Here’s Everything Coming to and Leaving Netflix in April

“This makes sense to me as episode ordering is completely new, and there’s nothing keeping them from using the data gathered here for future identity targeting,” he continued. “I hear Netflix thinks and cares a lot about ethical algorithms, but every company needs to be more transparent here.”

A final update: a friend I trust at Netflix looked into this, and apparently the episode ordering is just a 100% random A/B test that doesn’t involve any ML. Identity-based recommendations are still a good discussion to have, in this case it was just random!

— Lukas Thoms (@LukasThoms) March 19, 2019

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MoviePass Restores Movie-Per-Day Subscription Plan At $9.95 Teaser Rate

Read on: Deadline.

MoviePass, which has experimented with a range of subscription schemes in recent months, is rolling out an “uncapped” movie-per-day plan that will be $9.95 for those who pay for 12 months in advance.
The plan costs $14.95 on a month-to-mont…

Netflix’s Ted Sarandos Chides Apple & Disney For Being “Very Late” To Streaming

Read on: Deadline.

EXCLUSIVE: “Absolutely!” Ted Sarandos said Monday when asked whether his attitude toward the upcoming streaming platforms from Apple, Disney and WarnerMedia is a case of “bring it on.”
“I have no idea what they’re doing until we see it,” Netflix’s chie…

MySpace Loses 12 Years Of Uploaded Music Due To A Server Issue

Read on: Deadline.

MySpace, which was once the most trafficked website on the internet, has admitted that some 50 million user-uploaded songs as well as other files have been lost due to a server malfunction.
Concern has been mounting on Reddit and on social media over t…

Apple Rips Spotify Complaint In Europe As “Misleading Rhetoric”

Read on: Deadline.

Apple has issued a lengthy response to Spotify’s complaint before European Commission regulators, which was issued earlier this week. The iPhone maker dismisses it as “misleading rhetoric” that conceals its streaming competitor’…

YouTube Founders, Once TV Pariahs, To Get Emmys For Lifetime Achievement

Read on: Deadline.

Chad Hurley and Steven Shih Chen, two former PayPal colleagues who co-founded YouTube in 2005, were once so reviled in traditional-media circles that their company elicited a billion-dollar lawsuit by Viacom.
Today, they were named as recipients of Emm…

Apple’s Streaming Video Service Could Hit 100M Subscribers In 5 Years – Analyst

Read on: Deadline.

Apple’s hotly anticipated entry into video streaming, which is it likely to unveil March 25, will ramp quickly and could rack up 100 million subscribers in just five years, according to a forecast from Wedbush Securities analyst Daniel Ives.
In a…

One Out Of Five TV Homes In Several U.S. Cities Has Cut The Cord – Study

Read on: Deadline.

With TV antenna use booming, skinny bundles gaining traction and subscription streaming still on the upswing, new findings from Nielsen offer some eye-opening statistics showing how viewers are getting TV programming outside of the traditional pay bund…

Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman Unveil New Quibi Content, Defend “Improbable And Impossible” Mobile Platform – SXSW

Read on: Deadline.

Quibi founder Jeffrey Katzenberg and CEO Meg Whitman took the stage at SXSW to discuss their forthcoming short-form mobile streaming service. More accurately, they were defending it — and they unveiled new high-profile projects in the pipeline to…

Elizabeth Warren Pushes For Breakup Of Amazon, Google And Facebook

Read on: Deadline.

Elizabeth Warren, leaning into her reputation as a consumer advocate, unveiled a plan to break up tech giants Amazon, Google and Facebook.
In a blog post published on Medium, the Democratic senator from Massachusetts who is running for president in 202…

MoviePass Rival Sinemia Rolls Out Ticket Plan Without Subscription Requirement

Read on: Deadline.

Sinemia, a rival to MoviePass in the percolating movie ticketing space, has announced a plan that offers discounted movie tickets without requiring a subscription.
The new Sinemia Limitless plan offers a card — either virtual or physical — …

Net Neutrality Returns To Democratic Agenda With Save The Internet Act; FCC Responds

Read on: Deadline.

Democrats on Capitol Hill, now that they control the House of Representatives, are resuming their efforts to restore net neutrality with the introduction of a new bill in both the House and Senate.
Dubbed the Save the Internet Act, the legislation aims…

Serial Box’s New Prize: Marvel’s Black Panther, Thor, Black Widow & Jessica Jones In Weekly Content

Read on: Deadline.

Serial Box, the premium digital-book platform, is partnering with Marvel Entertainment to create new original stories for Black Panther, Thor, Black Widow, and Jessica Jones that will be produced by TV-style writers’ rooms, serialized in both wri…

Comcast Boss Brian Roberts Says NBCU Streaming Plan Won’t Mean “Cold Turkey” Exit From Third-Party Licensing Deals

Read on: Deadline.

Comcast CEO Brian Roberts said the forthcoming launch of NBCUniversal’s ad-supported streaming service will not prompt the kind of pullback from third-party licensing that has been signaled by Disney and, to a lesser extent, WarnerMedia.
The exec…

Roku Thumps Wall Street’s Q4 Estimates As Revenue And User Total Post Big Gains

Read on: Deadline.

Roku continued its recent momentum by reporting fourth-quarter results that beat Wall Street expectations and validated its recent strategic shifts.
Earnings per share came in at 5 cents, which was a dip from 6 cents in the year-earlier quarter, but we…

Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video to Produce ‘Audio Only’ Comedy Programs for Audible

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

“Saturday Night Live” boss Lorne Michaels’ Broadway Video has signed a deal with Amazon’s Audible to produce several “audio-only” comedy programs for subscribers, TheWrap has learned.
The first project is an absurdis…

Fake News by Robots? Axios Uses AI Program to Write ‘Not True’ Story in Experiment

Read on: TheWrapTheWrap.

Axios offered a glimpse of the possible brave new world of journalism over the weekend, publishing a story written almost entirely by artificial intelligence.

The story — which site tech reporter Kaveh Waddell stressed was “not true” — still read smoothly and would have been largely indistinguishable from other content written by Axios’ human reporters.

“I wrote the first two sentences in italics below — they’re from a story we published in Monday’s Axios Future newsletter,” Waddell wrote. “Then, a new computer program created at OpenAI wrote the rest, on the first try.”

Also Read: Axios Co-Founder Calls on Media to Ban Most Social Media Use by Reporters

The story itself — which, again, is fake — focused on “a new AI strategy document” which “speaks in stark terms of a ‘destabilizing’ Chinese threat.”

“It warns of a ‘new arms race in AI’ and says the United States ‘will not sit idly by’ as a ‘highly advanced new generation of weapons capable of waging asymmetric warfare’ is ‘possessed by aggressive actors,’” it reads.

Advances in artificial intelligence have led to disruptions in many industries in recent years, with machines and automated kiosks replacing human workers at a steady clip. One report from the McKinsey Global Institute has warned that by 2030, machines could wipe out more than 800 million jobs worldwide.

Also Read: Bloomingdale’s Apologizes Over ‘Fake News’ T-Shirt, Pulls It From Stores

The Axios story suggests journalists too might not be immune to the wipeout either. For years programmers have been tinkering around the margins and have used AI to successfully to create content.

Back in 2014, the Los Angles Times made headlines after revealing that a robot was used to write a breaking news story about a small earthquake in the city, making the paper first out with its report.

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Amazon To New York: Drop Dead; Tech Giant Abandons Headquarters Plan

Read on: Deadline.

Amazon has ditched its plan to build a new headquarters in New York City, opting instead to proceed with its “HQ2” site in Northern Virginia and additional expansion in Nashville and 17 corporate offices in the U.S. and Canada.
The decision…