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Exclusive: It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?

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It’s TikTok’s world. Can TV live in it?

#TikToks #world #live

The people who bring you video entertainment could be in for a rough time: A looming recession could hurt both their advertising revenue and consumer spending on subscription TV streaming services. But they’re also facing a foe that has nothing to do with the economic cycle: TikTok is coming for their eyeballs.

The free, Chinese-owned video-sharing service sometimes gets described as a social network, but that description masks what it really is: a colossally powerful entertainment app that keeps viewers glued to an endless stream of clips.

And TikTok is getting bigger every day: It now says it has 1 billion monthly users, but even that number likely understates its importance, because TikTok users spend a lot of time on TikTok — a year ago, the company was telling advertisers its users were spending nearly 90 minutes a day on the app. By contrast, US TV and streaming watchers were spending nearly five hours a day watching their shows and movies — but TV skews very old, and TikTok is very young. You can’t ascribe TV’s long-running viewer losses to a new app, but it’s very easy to see how it’s going to make it harder than ever to train young would-be viewers to watch traditional TV or even streaming.

“It is safe to say that TikTok has rapidly grown to be one of — if not the — largest social/communication/video apps in America in terms of time spent,” analyst Michael Nathanson wrote in a report last week.

Traditional media has been dealing with — and losing to — the competitive threat from the internet for years. Remember NBC’s freakout when Saturday Night Live’s “Lazy Sunday” sketch went viral on YouTube way back in 2006? TikTok, though, seems both more dangerous and harder for media execs to spot, like a mostly submerged iceberg.

If you run a media company, you’ve been telling yourself for years that your network or service has stuff people simply can’t find on YouTube or Facebook or Instagram or Reddit. But TikTok eviscerates most of those arguments: It’s a direct competitor for video eyeballs; it’s more compelling than the stuff you’re programming; and, just like a slot machine, it promises viewers that there’s always another dopamine hit just a swipe away.

“Tiktok is so much fun, and it’s so addictive — much more than anything you can see on TV,” says Rich Greenfield, a Wall Street analyst at LightShed.

So what is Big Media doing to counter or respond to TikTok’s threat? Nothing more than hope it’s a fad that goes away, from what I can tell. But I wanted to make sure I wasn’t missing anything, so I called around and heard … crickets. I triple-checked by asking Nathanson, who just dug deep into TikTok’s impact — did he know of any media companies doing anything interesting in response? His one-word, all-caps answer: “NOPE.”

Give the media companies this, though: Unlike YouTube a generation ago, they’re not trying to sue TikTok out of existence. And they have realized that anything with that many eyeballs is a good place to advertise.

Right now, at least, they don’t have to pay to do it: While TikTok is happy to take their money — it charges up to $3 million for an ad at the top of its feed that it says can reach all of its users in the US and Canada — the service’s ad business is just beginning to ramp up. Right now, it really expects media companies to act just like its users — by giving it content it can use to entertain other users.

And lots of them are up for it, says Catherine Halaby, a TikTok executive whose job is to help networks and streamers establish a presence on the service. She says her three-person team works with more than 300 accounts, up from 100 a year ago.

“By the time they come to us, they’re 100 percent bought in on the idea that they need to be on TikTok,” she says. “But there’s lots of confusion about how to do that.”

Halaby says there are a couple of problems for media companies to solve when they put their clips on TikTok: The first is simply understanding that while TikTok users can actively follow and look for creators and videos they like, the great majority of videos are served up using TikTok’s vaunted data set and algorithm. That’s supposed to pick stuff an individual user will like, regardless of whether they knew they wanted it.

The second is the pace: TikTok users flit quickly from trend to trend. Which means a company that wants to capitalize on a new viral dance or audio clip — like the “Jiggle Jiggle” song that has turned documentarian Louis Theroux into an unlikely star — means that a corporate account that wants to do the same has to do it fast. “Moving at that speed is the biggest adjustment,” Halaby says.

She cites Netflix, with its 24 million subscribers to its main account making it the biggest streamer on the service by far, and Paramount Pictures, which maximized its shirtless beach football footage from Top Gun: Maverick, as entertainment companies that have figured out that TikTok is for entertainment.

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Still, it’s not clear if the entertainment companies putting free content on TikTok are helping themselves or helping TikTok. Omar Raja, a social media star at ESPN, says he goes out of his way to find stuff to show TikTokers that isn’t traditional sports highlights.

“I’m trying to make content that typical sports viewers wouldn’t typically watch,” he says. That seems like a good strategy for making videos that work on TikTok — but it’s harder to understand how that helps a media property that caters to typical sports viewers.

And a studio executive I granted anonymity to in order to speak candidly says TikTok is “incredibly effective” at driving awareness for a film — just like a TV ad or a billboard — but says TikTok users are very unlikely to see a clip for a film and then go purchase a ticket. “They just don’t leave,” he says.

On the other hand, Sylvia George, who runs performance marketing for AMC Networks, says TikTok has been a good tool to prompt viewers to sign up for the company’s streaming services, like Shudder or AMC+. “It hasn’t proven to be this tangible threat that is taking people away from our platforms,” she says. “In some ways it’s the opposite.”

There is a subset of media companies that doesn’t need a wake-up call about TikTok: Tech companies have been paying attention to TikTok for a long time. Now they’re paying it the ultimate compliment, by copying its format (and using its videos) for their own TikTok clones like Facebook and Instagram’s Reels and YouTube’s Shorts. Facebook is also reportedly set to revamp its main newsfeed to be more TikTok-y.

The tech companies are also telling investors they’re paying attention, and have been increasingly loud about it on earnings calls, per Michael Nathanson:

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Meanwhile, Netflix co-CEO Reed Hastings has been musing about TikTok’s potential as a “substitution threat” to his business for a couple of years. And you can see a little of Netflix’s TikTok envy surface in its “fast laughs” feature, which gives you a never-ending stream of funny/funny-ish clips from Netflix comedies in its phone app.

But just seeing the problem doesn’t mean you can solve it, as countless companies have learned during the digital age. And TikTok’s huge ambitions are growing: At first, you could only place clips that ran for a few seconds on the service; now it’s up to 10 minutes. TikTok has its eyes set on moving beyond the phone, to your connected TVs, where you’re watching an increasing amount of video. If that works, it would compete even more directly with the streamers and networks.

I can think of one possible solution for the established media companies: hope that the US government bails them out.

While the Trump administration’s attempt in 2020 to ban TikTok, or at least force it to sell to a US bidder, was ham-handed and transparently jingoistic, there are plenty of thoughtful people who have concerns about TikTok’s presence in the US, and think it shouldn’t be here.

One argument focuses on the potential for abuse of private data, since Chinese-owned tech companies ultimately have to answer to the Chinese government; another focuses on the fact that TikTok could be an enormously powerful propaganda tool, if the Chinese government wanted to use it for that reason.

“Donald Trump was right, and the Biden administration should finish what he started,” my former colleague Ezra Klein wrote in the New York Times last month. A jaw-dropping sentence. But once you understand what TikTok is and could be, jaw-dropping ideas don’t seem so wild.


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Exclusive: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Opening Titles Still Somehow Rule as an N64 Game – TalkOfNews.com

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Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's Opening Titles Still Somehow Rule as an N64 Game

#Star #Trek #Deep #Space #Nine039s #Opening #Titles #Rule #N64 #Game

Star Trek has had an up-and-down history with video games, sometimes managing to succeed in gaming genres it arguably shouldn’t, while never managing to quite succeed in the ones it should. There’s been plenty of great ones, but now a very cool little animation imagines one of its finest entries getting a ‘90s tie-in that never was.

Twitter user SpinaSanctuary’s hypothetical title screen for a mid-’90s Deep Space Nine game on the Nintendo 64 imagines a sideways glance where the platform that gave us Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire instead took a visit to the Gamma Quadrant for some licensed gaming goodness, essentially riffing on the opening moments of Deep Space Nine’s own title sequence, but in a gloriously polygonal retro style.

What could’ve Star Trek 64: Deep Space Nine even been? An adventure game aboard the station? A starship strategy game set during the Dominion War? A retail management sim dedicated to the Promenade á la Roller Coaster Tycoon or Theme Park World? A first person shooter like Voyager got with the Elite Force games, that shouldn’t make sense, but totally does? Whatever it would’ve been, this cute little “demake” has me wishing we could’ve found out.


Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel and Star Wars releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about House of the Dragon and Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

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Exclusive: Amazon Prime subscribers now get GrubHub Plus free for a year – TalkOfNews.com

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Amazon Prime subscribers now get GrubHub Plus free for a year

#Amazon #Prime #subscribers #GrubHub #free #year

Amazon Prime subscribers in the US are getting a new benefit as part of their subscription, the company has announced. From today, they’ll be able to redeem a free year of Grubhub Plus, the monthly subscription service that offers free food delivery on orders over $12 from participating restaurants. Grubhub Plus normally costs $9.99 a month.

According to Amazon, free deliveries associated with Grubhub Plus are available from hundreds of thousands of restaurants across over 4,000 cities in the US. After the year is up, Grubhub will automatically start charging $9.99 a month for continued access. Existing Grubhub Plus subscribers can still make use of the promotion, which will be applied from the start of their next billing cycle. Canceling Prime automatically cancels Grubhub Plus.

The deal comes just a few short years after Amazon shut down Amazon Restaurants, its own attempt to compete in the takeout delivery market. The service was live between 2015 and 2019 but faced stiff competition from the likes of Uber Eats and DoorDash.

Since then, the e-commerce giant has mainly focused on grocery deliveries, but has kept a toe in the takeout delivery market through partnerships with other firms. It announced an investment in Europe-focused Deliveroo in 2019, and started offering access to its Deliveroo Plus subscription service as an additional perk for Prime members in the UK last year.

“Amazon has redefined convenience with Prime and we’re confident this offering will expose many new diners to the value of Grubhub Plus while driving more business to our restaurant partners and drivers,” Grubhub CEO Adam DeWitt said in a statement. The company, which is owned by Just Eat Takeaway.com, says it expects Grubhub Plus subscriptions to rise as a result of the deal.

GrubHub Plus isn’t the only additional benefit Amazon is announcing for Prime members today. The e-commerce giant is also making a short teaser trailer for its upcoming Lord of the Rings TV show, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power available exclusively to Prime subscribers for 48 hours. Members can watch the teaser over on the show’s Amazon page. The trailer ends by promising yet another teaser is coming on July 14th ahead of the release of the series on September 2nd.

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Exclusive: Explained: What is the Toll Fraud malware, how it attacks digital wallets and how to protect yourself – TalkOfNews.com

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Explained: What is the Toll Fraud malware, how it attacks digital wallets and how to protect yourself

#Explained #Toll #Fraud #malware #attacks #digital #wallets #protect

Microsoft recently published a blog post that warned Android users of a new malicious malware that is going around, called the Toll Fraud malware. The concern that Microsoft raises about this malware, is the fact that it can drain the payment wallets in infected devices, and, can also empty your bank accounts.

Microsoft researchers Dimitrios Valsamaras and Sang Shin Jung detailed the continuing evolution of “toll fraud malware” and the ways in which it attacks Android devices.

The malware falls under the subcategory of billing fraud “in which malicious applications subscribe users to premium services without their knowledge or consent” and “is one of the most prevalent types of Android malware.”

According to a Google transparency report, most of the installations of this malware are in India, Russia, Mexico, Indonesia, and Turkey.

How does the Toll Fraud Malware work?
What this malware does, is that it disconnects your device from WiFi, and allows the device to only operate on the cellular network. It then takes over the WAP or the Wireless Application Protocol.

WAPs, normally allow consumers to subscribe to paid content and add the charge to their phone bill. Once it hijacks the WAP, the malware starts subscribing to premium services while also intercepting one-time passwords (OTP) that a legit service provider may have sent you to verify your identity.

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These SMSs are then forwarded to a database, which malicious hackers and actors can use to hack into various accounts that you own, even your bank accounts.

The Toll Fraud malware is one of the oldest malware in existence and has been going around since the time of dial-up internet. However, over the decades, it has evolved into something very sophisticated.

The current version of the malware is able to evade detection and can achieve a high number of installations before a single variant can be removed. It uses dynamic code loading, which makes it difficult for genuine mobile security solutions and antiviruses to detect threats.

It also suppresses SMS notifications and app notifications from wallets and dedicated banks. This way, by the time a user gets to know that their device has been infected, it is very late.

How do Android devices get infected by the Toll Fraud malware?
Not all apps on the Play Store are legit. Most of the free antiviruses, file managers, beauty filters and wallpaper apps have some sort of malware embedded in them.

The biggest red flag that such apps throw up is asking for bizarre permissions. For example, a camera app, asking permission to send or read SMSs make no sense. Or, a wallpaper app, asking for permissions to read notifications and monitor them again makes no sense. People often ignore what sort of permissions certain apps ask for. 

How to protect yourself from Toll Fraud malware?
Users need to be very careful of the apps they download, even if they are doing it through the Play Store. Also, avoid sideloading apps.

Avoid installing apps that ask for excessive permissions for programs that don’t require such privileges. Also, avoid apps which have similar UIs or icons to that of legitimate proper apps.

Keep an eye on the developer profiles that look fake or have poor grammar, and if the app has a slew of bad reviews.


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