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http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-12-18/sony-said-to-explore-sale-of-gracenote-audio-recognition-service.html Sony may be looking to sell media recognition specialist Gracenote, according to a Bloomberg report. There’s no word yet on how much money Sony is looking to make, whether the company intends to keep a stake in the unit, or even who a potential buyer […] Read more »

Viki, the international streaming video service that recently got acquired by Japan’s Rakuten, just took a big step into the Chinese market: Viki is supplying Baidu with movies and TV shows from a variety of countries including South Korea, Japan, the U.K. and the U.S., which […] Read more »

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Rounds, the group video chat app we’ve covered a few times before on Gigaom, announced a partnership with Vidyo Tuesday. Rounds will use Vidyo’s technology to power the next generation of its mobile app, which will include features like video overlays while you browse a site […] Read more »

On The Web

Verizon is close to inking a deal with Intel to buy the chip maker’s yet-to-be launched online TV service OnCue, according to a Bloomberg report. Intel originally planned to launch the service by the end of the year, but the company’s new CEO Brian Krzanich decided that Intel shouldn’t be in the TV business, after all. Bloomberg reports that Verizon wants to use the unit to offer TV services outside of its market footprint, but it’s still unclear how exactly such an offering would look like.

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In Brief

It’s that time of the year again: YouTube stars like Freddie Wong, Toby Turner, Daily Grace, Mystery Guitar Man, Tyler Ward and a number of others are coming together Thursday night at 6pm P.T. for the site’s second annual Tube-A-Thon, a telethon-style live event that aims to raise money for charity. Just like last year, the event is going to be hosted by What’s Trending’s Shira Lazar, but this time around, it’s live streamed from YouTube’s Los Angeles studio space, which has been home to a growing number of live events this year, including YouTube’s first music awards show.

On The Web

YouTube’s ad revenue is set to hit $5.6 billion this year, according to an eMarketer report relayed by the Financial Times. The same report estimates that the service’s net revenue after paying its partners is close to $2 billion, which would be significantly more than the $1.65 billion that Google paid for YouTube in 2006. YouTube now gets about 20 percent of all U.S. online video ad money.

In Brief

Rdio launched its music subscription service in 20 additional countries late Monday, bringing the total number of countries Rdio is available in now to 51. The new markets include 13 Latin American countries, Israel, South Africa, the Dominican Republic and a few smaller countries in Europe. The expansion could give Rdio a chance to leapfrog Spotify in some of these markets: The bigger competitor is thus far only available in 28 countries.

In Brief

Time Warner Cable’s incoming CEO is open to adding Netflix’s app to his company’s set-top-box. Rob Marcus, who will begin his gig as CEO of Time Warner Cable In January, said as much at the UBS Global Media & Communications Conference in New York Monday, according to Variety. That’s somewhat different from Comcast, whose CEO recently said that a partnership with Netflix is “not really a high priority” for his company. Netflix has started to work with ISPs overseas to get its app onto their set-top-boxes, but Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said that he only wants these partnerships if his app gets prominent placement on set-top-boxes.

In Brief

Hisense is the latest to drop the Google TV brand for its new generation of Android-based TV devices. The company announced this week that it is building a new TV set dubbed the H6 SMART TV that features “the latest Google services for TV powered by Android 4.2.2″ (hat tip to Engadget). The H6 will come in 40-inch, 50-inch, and 55-inch, and Hisense is also building a new set-top-box dubbed the Pulse PRO, which will replace the Hisense Pulse Google TT box. We reported first in October that Google was phasing out the Google TV brand as it merges the platform with Android.

On The Web

Netflix may call itself a next-generation TV network, but it’s fundamentally changing how we watch television, and in turn define ourselves as a nation, argues Tim Wu in a piece for the New Republic. Wu retells some of Netflix’s earlier original content efforts, and argues that the company’s recent shows aren’t about mass culture but about intense niche fandom. Definitely worth a read.

In Brief

Some Chromecast users are starting to report that they have received the latest firmware update for Google’s TV dongle, and the most prominent change seems to be an even more subdued home screen. Gone is the big “ready to cast” tag line, as well as the Google-colored status bar. Instead, Google is introducing photo credits, an indication that the company may be opening up Chromecast backgrounds to a wider array of sources, possibly at some point including a user’s personal photos. You can check out some photos of the new Chromecast home screen here and here, and join folks speculating about other features of this update on Reddit.

In Brief

This morning, an email from a PR agency titled “Netflix likely to end binge watching in 2014″ hit my inbox, responding to this week’s announcement that the streaming service’s first animated original Turbo Fast will be released in installations, as opposed to making the entire season available on day one. Then, a little later, another email, this time from Netflix: “House of Cards returns for second season Friday February 14.” In one big swoop, ready to binge. No change of heart, after all. So why did Netflix divvy up Turbo Fast? Business Week has the answer, House of Cards star Robin Wright has no comment.

On The Web

After an increasing backlash from some high-profile musicians, Spotify is going on the offensive by sharing some information on how it generates money for the music industry. Aside from average pay-outs, which range from $0.006 to $0.0084 per play, the service is also offering musicians detailed statistics, and even an additional revenue stream: Spotify has teamed up with Topspin to allow bands to sell merchandise through its service.

In Brief

Rdio named Anthony Bay as its new CEO Tuesday. Bay joins the digital music subscription service from Amazon, where he was working as Global head of Digital Video. That’s an interesting background, considering that Rdio also is operating a digital video service called Vdio – but for now, Bay seems to be concentrated on Rdio’s music business, as the company’s press release doesn’t mention Vdio with a single word. Of course, it’s not like Rdio won’t keep Bay busy: The company has been trying to catch up with Spotify by partnering with radio network Cumulus to launch free, ad-supported services. But making the numbers work hasn’t been easy for Rdio, which recently laid off a reported 35 employees.

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