2019.04.12 Last Week in Digital Media

Welcome to last week in digital media.


  • YouTube has raised the price of their YouTube TV (OTT) offering to $49.99 per month (up from $40). YouTube announced the price rise while sharing the news that Discovery content is now available on the platform. This was also used to justify the price increase. In consumer terms, it makes it increasingly tough to justify cutting the cord as an internet-only connection + OTT package is now almost the same price as a standard cable package.
  • T-Mobile released details of their proposed OTT offering, TVision. The initial product will have 275+ channels, cloud DVR and smart assistant integration. Although with a service cost of US$90, it’s expensive. T-Mobile claims 5G will make the offering more competitive, although for now it still requires a cable connection.
  • Despite the price issues above, there are some positive signs for OTT with Disney announcing the pricing and launch dates of Disney+. The service will launch November 12, prices start at $6.99 per month or discounted to $69 per year for an annual subscription. The service will launch in the US with plans to be available globally within 2 years.
  • Roku released a software update Roku 9.1, which is notable because one of the changes is that if you search for something that is available for free on Roku’s owned and operated channel, then the content will autoplay (rather than just showing the result and offer paid options). This change could end up pushing more users to Roku’s ad-supported offerings.
  • Something to share with clients who retail online, solicit online registrations, etc. Two (2) US Senators have introduced a bill called the DETOUR Act to ban psychological tricks (Dark Patterns) used to trick users from opting-in to share data, pay for things that are also available for free, etc. Senator Warner has a good twitter thread that gives examples of what DETOUR would seek to ban – personally I have never seen mobile ads with fake hair to trick people into clicking, but apparently it happens.
  • an NBC-WSJ poll of 1,000 US adults found that some interesting attitudes to social media, technology, regulation, and use of data (see pp 9-12). Highlights include that more than half are not satisfied with the regulation of social media, high levels of distrust of Facebook, over half concerned about social media being divisive and false, and significant concerns about the use of data).
  • Facebook has delayed the proposed clear history tool again. This is now delayed over a year since it was announced at the Facebook developer conference (F8) last year. Facebook’s 2019 developer conference is scheduled for April 30th, so it will be interesting to see if Facebook explains the reasons for the delay.
  • an unsettling read on Bloomberg, that alleges that Amazon employees are listening to and sharing Alexa recordings as part of the process to train the platform. Bloomberg claims that even if you opt-out of letting Amazon user your recordings for new features, “people who opt out of that program might still have their recordings analyzed by hand over the regular course of the review process“.
  • The UK Government has released a whitepaper (PDF link) called “Online Harms Whitepaper” that proposes to having an independent regulator hold social media companies accountable for harmful content. The lengthy (100+ page) document kicks off a public consultation period which closes July 1.
  • Facebook published an update on how it will manage problematic content (includes everything from non-brand safe, to bullying, to fake news) under principles called “Remove, Reduce, Inform”. There is significant detail behind each principle, with Facebook outlining that the approach will apply year-round, not just during election cycles.

Have a great week.


PS. A useful app (free and iOS only) for those concerned about Privacy is “Jumbo” letting you clean up your social media accounts and also update your privacy settings across services, all from one app. There are some limits to what it can do (mainly because of social media service API constraints kick-in) but it’s worth using if you’re worried about whether you have turned on the right privacy settings. The app works across twitter, Facebook, Google and Alexa.