TIME Technology & Media

Millennials Are Abandoning Their TV Sets Faster Than Ever

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The cord-cutting continues for America's youth

Young people are ditching their television sets even faster than in previous years, according to new data, with traditional TV usage falling among viewers age 18-34 falling at twice the normal rate in the recent September to January season.

A new Nielsen survey shows that traditional TV usage among millennial viewers tumbled 10.6% between September and January, the New York Post reports. Since 2012, traditional TV usage had only been falling at about 4% a year from season to season.

The sudden acceleration of young people dropping TV in favor of Netflix surprised many analysts. “The change in behavior is stunning. The use of streaming and smartphones just year-on-year is double-digit increases,” Alan Wurtzel, NBCUniversal’s audience research chief, told the Post. “I’ve never seen that kind of change in behavior.”

In 2011, 21.7 million young adults were tuning in to their TV sets, but that figure fell to 17.8 million last month, a drop of almost 20%. That trend is likely to continue as more millennials turn to online video streaming from Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO GO and other sources.

[New York Post]

Read next: This Millennial Paid Off $23,375 in Student Loans in Just 10 Months

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TIME Technology & Media

David Carr, Influential New York Times Columnist, Has Died at 58

He was a leading voice on media and its relationship with technology and culture

Correction appended, Feb. 13

David Carr, the veteran New York Times journalist and writer of the newspaper’s much loved Media Equation column, died on Thursday after collapsing in the newsroom.

The 58-year-old journalist joined the Times in 2002 as a business reporter covering the magazine industry, and had been writing extensively about the state of the media and its evolution since then. He also published a book titled The Night of the Gun in 2008, a memoir that documented his recovery from drug addiction.

He had previously worked as a contributing writer to the Atlantic Monthly and New York magazine, and was also a media writer for Inside.com.

Read More: TIME’s 2008 review of The Night of the Gun

Carr’s impact on the media industry and its people was evidenced by an outpouring of condolence and support on social media — not just from his own colleagues but from journalists around the world — following the announcement of his death.

Carr is survived by his wife Jill, a Shake Shack executive, and three daughters.

Hours before his sudden death, Carr interviewed whistleblower Edward Snowden via satellite link along with journalists Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras about their Oscar-nominated documentary Citizenfour. Watch Carr’s final interview below.

Correction: The original version of this story misstated the job held by David Carr’s wife. She is international operations manager for Shake Shack.

TIME Culture

No, Blogs Are Not Dead

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

In an era where institutions are dying, individual media is still king

I started my first blog 15 years ago, about the same time Andrew Sullivan embraced the form. Sullivan’s highly publicized decision to end his blog doesn’t surprise me, but it is not the “end of blogging,” despite some premature obits to that effect. I can testify to that firsthand. I still run two blogs: FutureofCapitalism.com (which is about exactly what its name says) and Smartertimes.com, the latter the very same blog (examining the sins of The New York Times) that launched me on this path.

But Sullivan’s departure from the blog world is a good moment to reconsider a revolutionary form that has matured–and to think about what is essential about blogs and makes them likely to endure. (Credit, or hat-tip, as bloggers might put it, to this question of essential nature, is due to the Greek philosopher Plato, and a reminder that even when writing about new technology, it always helps to have a grounding in the classics of humanities.)

The pajamas—what bloggers other than myself were widely reported to wear as they typed away—aren’t essential. But blogs are well positioned to survive, in part because a blog is about an individual, not an institution, in an era when individuals matter more than institutions.

The value to the reader of a blog is provided by the individual journalist, not the brand for which he or she happens to write. Andrew Sullivan’s readers followed him from AndrewSullivan.com to Time, the Atlantic, and the Daily Beast. People read Jeffrey Goldberg’s reporting on the Middle East because it is by Jeffrey Goldberg. It doesn’t matter to readers whether it appears in The New Yorker, Atlantic, or Bloomberg View. Paul Krugman’s readers don’t care whether he is writing in Slate, The New York Times, or The New York Review of Books. If Krugman left The New York Times and started writing for the Washington Post, readers would follow him there, just as technology columnist Kara Swisher’s readers followed her from the Wall Street Journal to Recode.

Blogs, by their nature, offer a point of view and have a voice, and that’s the way that journalism and media are heading. The advantage of the blog over the publication or media outlet is fundamental here: It’s less complicated for an individual to form and express an opinion than for an institution to express one. Bloggers, unlike old-fashioned journalists, don’t follow the convention of attempting to pretend not to have any opinions about the news they are covering. They also are freer to express idiosyncratic, outsider views than newspaper columnists, even the best of whom are constrained by their institutions and their audiences.

And while the ability to produce opinion quickly can be abused, blogs provide the kind of connection and curation that is necessary to understand a world with so much news and information. Successful blogs use hyperlinks to send us out into the web; the blog is guide and greeter. A great blogger can be a personal information concierge, and is likely offering that service for free. Blogs are often bargains.

And not just for readers. The blog’s most enduring feature is the low barrier to entry. Anyone can start one, and that remains the subversive, democratizing, revolutionary beauty of it. The Drudge Report’s Matt Drudge, one guy with a laptop, can drive the news cycle as decisively as 100-year-old institutions with hundreds of millions of dollars invested in printing presses or television studios, highly educated editors or super-attractive anchors.

I’ve been on both sides of this divide. I ran the Harvard Crimson, a century-old institution with a brick building and presses in the basement. I worked at and have written for big newspapers like the Wall Street Journal and Los Angeles Times, and I tried to revive in print an old newspaper brand, the New York Sun, with a news and editorial staff that eventually totaled more than 50. Since the Sun ceased print publication in September 2008, I’ve been operating FutureOfCapitalism.com and SmarterTimes.com for a cost that is less than 1 percent of what was spent producing the Sun.

As Andrew Sullivan acknowledged in his retirement note, bloggers are prone to burnout. But so are old-fashioned journalists. In some ways it is easier to take a vacation when you have colleagues to keep things running while you are gone. In other ways, though, it may be easier to take your laptop along and blog from the beach when you don’t have a staff back at the office to worry about. The best bloggers, such as Glenn Reynolds, Elizabeth Spiers and Megan McArdle, combine blogging with other activities, such as teaching and book writing. I’ve found blogging and book-writing to be a nice combination of the fast and slow games, the instant and the long-lasting.

I’ve seen the advantages and disadvantages of the old media world, and of the blog world, too. Blogging runs the risk of solipsism. The reporting resources and reputations of institutions are useful in getting phone calls returned, landing interviews, gaining access, and attention. But the issue isn’t whether, given a choice, we might return to the pre-blog world, or inhabit or invent, as Ben Smith imagines, a “post-blog” world. There is no turning back. Like it or not, we live in a blog media world.

Ira Stoll is editor of FutureOfCapitalism.com and Smartertimes.com and author of JFK, Conservative and Samuel Adams: A Life. He wrote this article for Zocalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Technology & Media

Overstock.com to Take On Amazon With Streaming Service

The service's launch is set for mid-2015

Mega online retailer Overstock.com plans to launch a video on demand and streaming service to rival Amazon, the company’s CEO announced Tuesday.

Overstock plans to launch its VOD service by mid-2015 with 30,000 and begin streaming both original and acquired content, the Hollywood Reporter reports.

The website will use analysis of product searches by its 25 million to 40 million unique visitors a month to determine what movies and TV shows to make available, CEO Patrick Byrne said. The service will be available to customers of Overstock’s loyalty program, which costs $20 a year.

“We will be a competitor to Amazon,” Byrne said. “We think our loyalty program is better than Amazon’s. We give you five to 25 percent back on what you spend. So we pay people back for their digital downloads.”

[THR]

TIME Technology & Media

AOL Stock Rises on Rumors of Verizon Takeover

AOL Verizon Takeover Rumors
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The AOL logo is posted on a sign in front of the AOL Inc. offices on February 7, 2011 in Palo Alto, California.

Inside sources say Verizon sees AOL as a strong partner for online video content

AOL shares climbed by nearly 13% in after-hours trading Monday evening, after news broke of a possible joint venture with Verizon.

Bloomberg News, citing anonymous sources, reported that the telecoms giant had approached AOL to discuss a joint venture or an acquisition deal that would expand its video offerings for mobile devices. The sources said that the deal was in its early, speculative stages and no concrete terms had been proposed to date.

AOL’s advertising platform, which automatically matches buyers to sellers, could reportedly be combined with Verizon’s video content. Both companies declined to publicly comment on the deal.

Read more at Bloomberg News.

TIME Technology & Media

Now You Can Live Stream NBC Shows Online

NBC Logo At Entrance Of GE Building
Oliver Morris—Getty Images A nighttime view of the NBC logo at the entrance to the General Electric (GE) Building where the NBC Studios and the Rainbow Room are located, Midtown Manhattan, New York, May 27, 2013.

The announcement marks a significant step in an industry wide campaign to bring TV to mobile devices

NBC will live stream programs to computers, tablets and other mobile devices, the broadcaster announced on Tuesday, as part of an industry wide push to deliver television content across a wider variety of devices.

The broadcaster eschewed the standalone subscription model favored by HBO and CBS, however, choosing instead to deliver online content to cable and satellite subscribers at no additional cost, the Wall Street Journal reports. Viewers will have to authenticate their pay-TV subscription in order to access the shows.

The initiative marks a significant step forward in the industry’s “TV Everywhere” campaign, which commits to broadcasting television content online, but has been stymied by internecine squabbles over revenue sharing agreements. NBC Universal said in a statement that it was “committed to supporting the TV Everywhere ecosystem.”

Read more at the Wall Street Journal.

TIME Technology & Media

Sony CEO Approved Kim Jong Un’s Grisly Death in The Interview

Sony Hack
Kazuhiro Nogi—AFP/Getty Images A logo of Japan's Sony Corporation is displayed at its headquarters in Tokyo on May 14, 2014.

Sony had unusual involvement in the controversial film

Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai personally approved the final scene in Seth Rogen’s The Interview in which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un dies, according to emails leaked as part of the massive security breach at the company.

The Interview, which depicts an assassination attempt against the North Korean leader, angered the rogue state and may have prompted the country to a launch the devastating cyberattack against Sony.

Hirai asked studio executives not to include Kim’s exploding face in versions of the film to be released outside of the United States, though he ultimately gave the go-ahead to the scene with Kim’s death, Bloomberg reports.

The interference of Sony Pictures Entertainment’s Tokyo-based parent company on films is extremely rare, and speaks to the sensitive nature of the film.

“I’ve given this a lot of thought and would like to go ahead with a variation of version 337,” Hirai wrote in a Sept. 29 e-mail to Sony Pictures Entertainment Co-Chairman Amy Pascal, based on the trove of leaked emails. “It would be much appreciated if you could push them a bit further as you mentioned in your e-mail. Also, please ensure that this does not make it into the international version of the release.”

Pascal said in an email to Rogen that she had never once received a note from headquarters involving the particulars of a film, but acquiesced to Hirai. “I haven’t the foggiest notion how to deal with Japanese politics as it relates to Korea so all I can do is make sure that Sony won’t be put in a bad situation and even that is subjective,” Pascal wrote to Rogen on Sept. 25 while asking for him to tone down the gore.

[Bloomberg]

 

TIME Companies

HBO to Outsource Streaming Technology in Blow to ‘Backstabbing’ CTO

The future of HBO Go is unclear

In a major strategic shift, HBO will license the technology underpinning the standalone streaming service it plans to offer in 2015. The company has killed a project called “Maui” that would build the new streaming service in-house, according to an internal memo (see below).

Rather than build the technology internally, the company has struck a deal to use external technology offering from MLB Advanced, according to sources familiar with the situation. MLB Advanced already provides white-label streaming technology for clients like WWE Network, but HBO will likely be its largest client. It’s unclear what this means for the future of HBO Go, the company’s existing streaming service for cable subscribers.

HBO hopes to launch the new standalone streaming service in line with the Game of Thrones season premiere in April.

Moving HBO’s new streaming service to an external platform is a blow to Otto Berkes, the chief technology officer of HBO. Since becoming HBO’s CTO in 2012, Berkes has brought in a number of his ex-colleagues from Microsoft and set up a large office in Seattle with 55 engineers, laying off a number of longtime employees in New York. The Seattle office, which is rumored to cost HBO as much as $100 million per year, has been the source of internal squabbling at the company. Insiders accused Berkes of building “a Napoleonic empire” within HBO.

From a recent Glassdoor review:

The once great group, now called Digital Products, has been in decline since about 2012. Change had been desperately needed, but change we got is toxic and lacking unity, direction and clarity. Culture is now unfriendly and full of back stabbing done with a smile.

Earlier this year, HBO Go suffered several embarrassing outages during episodes of Game of Thrones and True Detective. According to sources, Berkes had known about a “memory leak” for nine months but decided it was a “non-issue.” That leak eventually led to the HBO Go outages. Internally, some accused Berkes of using the outages as a way to ask for more money to invest in his Seattle engineering team. He got the investment, but HBO executives have not been pleased with what he’s delivered. Berkes delayed product launches and was unable to deliver on upgrades. “If you look at what [HBO Go] is today versus two years ago, he hasn’t really done anything,” one source said.

As chatter about HBO’s standalone streaming service became more serious, HBO chose an external technology provider because, according to one source, “they realized he couldn’t pull it off.”

The MLB Advanced Media deal has fueled speculation that Berkes could be fired or demoted as early as this week. HBO declined to comment on Berkes’s future at the company but a spokesperson provided the following statement to Fortune:

Maui was one of several options on the table to accomplish the undertaking of offering a standalone HBO product for next year. It is not uncommon to use outside resources in this type of project. This in no way impacts our plans and we’re excited to bring an over-the-top HBO product to market next year.

HBO is expected to make a strong statement that it is a media company, not a technology company, one source said. The company does not want to be seen as chasing after Netflix, which has led the TV industry’s push into online streaming. (Notably, Netflix was able to publish entire seasons of House of Cards andOrange is the New Black without any outages.) Netflix has always been a technology company trying to dethrone HBO. With the rise of cord-cutting, investors have pushed HBO to be more like Netflix. Taking HBO’s standalone streaming service away from Berkes’ internal team is a “direct antithetical response to Netflix,” one source said.

HBO is a subsidiary of Time Warner Inc.

Here is the memo, sent by Mark Thomas, SVP of Technology Program Management, and Drew Angeloff, SVP, Digital Products:

HBO executive management has made a decision to pursue an external solution for the product that was being built by the Maui team. This decision was not made lightly, and was based on an assessment of risk and scope of the product needed to meet HBO¹s short term business needs for April 2015. This was not a judgment of the team¹s work quality or deliverables but rather a bet that an existing streaming service could deliver the needed product faster and at lower risk than Maui.

This means that effective today the Maui project is cancelled.

Canceling a project is unpleasant, especially when the target is in sight and tantalizingly close. Drew and I have often discussed the excellent work done by the team on Maui – The Maui team was hitting deliverables ahead of schedule and at a high level of quality. Maui’s timeframe caused us to make concessions both in scope and culture. We look forward to returning to teams defining scope, and consumer experiences without forced top down scheduling.

The larger technology team now has three core missions.

1. Our top priority: Fully support the work needed to enable the external solution for April. To begin this work we have asked a small forward group to engage and assess with the external partner and get to a detailed statement of work as quickly as possible. Once that SoW is complete we will staff to meet our deliverables.

2. A large portion of Maui’s effort can be repurposed for HBO GO, a top priority for HBO. We will continue to make HBO GO the best global capable streaming service available. This means that we redouble and focus our efforts, first for the April timeframe with our scale and robustness goals for Game of Thrones, and second with our longer term plan to deploy Hurley, and a suite of Hadron clients as quickly as possible. We will also fold as much as possible of the good work done for Maui into HBO GO where we can.

3. We will continue our efforts around interactive and other future looking areas on a case by case basis the same way we do today.

Maui was a way to get us into market faster with a less than perfect solution – the external partner will take that burden allowing us to focus on the forward looking technologies we are creating for HBO GO.

Mark and Drew

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME technology

Industry Gathering Aims to Reshape Future of America’s Drone Business

Flying drone with camera
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How Robofest—an informal meeting of aerospace industry veterans, government insiders, and Beltway think tankers—aims to reshape the U.S. commercial drone industry

At Robofest, first things first. First there’s the wine, provided courtesy of one of the Washington, D.C. area’s most influential aerospace consultancies. Once you’ve filled your plastic cup—this affair is more backyard barbecue than society event—there’s the meet and greet, an opportunity to check out the credentials of those around you: an aerospace industry executive, the economic development chief for a western U.S. state, a dean of engineering for a prestigious American university, several D.C. think tankers, lobbyists, lawyers. But the very first person you meet is Darryl Jenkins, chairman of the American Aviation Institute, consultant to airlines and aviation companies and host and creator of today’s event.

Jenkins is a well-known personality in the aerospace and aviation realms. He’s been in the room for more or less every major airline merger and bankruptcy restructuring over the past few decades. He’s spent his career lecturing to and on the aerospace industry, having taught for several semesters at George Washington University while publishing countless papers and research reports as well as one book on the industry. He’s the guy that goes on Bloomberg TV and CNBC to explain these things to the world. Jenkins knows a whole lot of influential people in the aviation and aerospace worlds. A lot of those people are here at Robofest today. They, like Jenkins, share a keen interest in the next generation of aerospace technology—the various unmanned aerial systems commonly and collectively known as drones.

It’s a pitch-perfect afternoon in late October when Robofest takes place. The setting is Jenkins’ secluded home in the Shenandoah foothills. This year’s event is the second in two years, already known as an off-the-record social date that is evolving into an industry movement that Jenkins hopes will pave the way forward for the burgeoning commercial drone industry. (Fortune obtained special permission to write about the event.) On the agenda: An open discussion on how to best move the industry forward, and—of course—a bit of drone flying. But first, there’s wine and then lunch. No one wants to reshape an entire industry on an empty stomach.

Last year’s Robofest was mostly a recreational and social affair, Jenkins says. This year—with some of the more influential minds within the industry, state and federal government, and academia all gathered on his back patio—Jenkins wants to do more than just talk about what can be done. The drone industry largely sees itself as hamstrung by an overreaching and underfunded Federal Aviation Administration. The industry believes it is increasingly outgunned by foreign competitors operating in more permissive regulatory environments. Jenkins and his assembled cast of industry veterans, lawyers, entrepreneurs, lobbyists, and government insiders want to change that.

“When I think about all the airline mergers and bankruptcies I’ve been through with this industry, I feel like an old man,” Jenkins says, calling his 80 or so guests to order. “When I think about UAS technology, I’m 16 again.” As his guests finish tucking into plates of fried chicken and pasta salad, Jenkins reminds his guests that the point of this gathering is not to sit around throwing rocks at the FAA, an activity that has become an organized sport for advocates of a commercialized drone industry. Today is about hammering out some concrete steps that the industry can take in the near term. It’s about keeping the industry marching forward despite bureaucratic inertia.

Jenkins turns the floor over to his keynote speaker, the former CEO of a major Fortune 500 aerospace and defense company and vocal supporter of the drone industry. His comments set off a spirited discussion about what the industry needs, how it can nudge the FAA in the right direction, and—most importantly—what the industry can do on its own without help from the FAA. (The theme of this year’s Robofest: “Doing it Ourselves.”)

No single voice or interest dominates the discussion. Among those that speak up are academics, former FAA officials, aerospace industry executives, drone entrepreneurs looking to build new companies around UAS technologies and services, local law enforcement, and U.S. intelligence employees. One is a lawyer who specializes in the nascent new practice of drone law. Another represents the newly formed D.C. drone lobby backed by Google and Amazon. There are even realtors interested in using drones for aerial photography, which is currently prohibited by the FAA, and a sailing coach interested in applying drones to maritime sport.

Above all, there is money present. Representatives of a $2.2 billion investment fund aimed specifically at drone infrastructure—such as air traffic control technologies to allow drones to safely operate alongside conventional aircraft in U.S. airspace—weigh in during the discussion. For more than an hour the discussion ping-pongs around Jenkins’ crowded, sun-dappled patio.

There is disagreement but also plenty of consensus. The large drone industry is well represented on Capitol Hill through the defense and aerospace industries, but the small UAS industry—representing aircraft that weigh less than 55 lbs.—needs to better organize and represent itself, the group agrees. Small UAS need size-specific regulations so that a five-pound drone flying at 300 feet is treated differently than a large drone. And most of all, the industry needs to work with the FAA, rather than rail against it—otherwise, little progress will occur.

Jenkins closes the discussion by informing his guests that this will be the last Robofest held at his home. Though it’s only the second such event, it’s already straining the capacity of his generous patio space. Jenkins says he’s working with universities in the D.C. area to formalize and host the next event sometime in early 2016. The plan: bring today’s agenda to a much larger audience. It would be a mistake to wait any longer, he says.

“We’re at an inflection point,” says one self-described serial entrepreneur who launched and sold four technology companies. He’s traveled to Robofest from Michigan to hear what others in the industry have to say and for the chance to swap business cards and make a few new contacts in the industry. Naturally, his latest startup is a drone company, one that would provide drone products and services as well as training and certification for pilots—as soon as standards for such certification are codified by the FAA, that is. “There’s still a lot of uncertainty,” he says. “But the time for this industry is now.”

The sun is getting low now and the breeze has died down—it’s finally time to fly. From car trunks and duffel bags and hard plastic carrying cases, out come the drones—from small quad-rotors to massive eight-armed octo-copters in varying shapes and sizes. The entire gathering looks on as one machine after another rises into the sky. In minutes, everyone is 16 again.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Social Media

Twitter Just Made It Easier to Block Haters

Flagging inappropriate content will take a lot less effort

You can now block Twitter trolls more easily than ever.

The social network has created a set of tools that allow users to flag inappropriate users and content amidst the 500 million Tweets sent each day in fewer steps. Blocking a user has always required filling out a report that details the alleged harassment, but less information is now required in the report.

Twitter released a short video that shows off its mobile-friendly new options.

On the back-end, Twitter has implemented a tool that allows for a more streamlined review of flagged tweets and users.

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