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Japanese TV fans got one more option to get their movie fix this week: Amazon launched its Instant Video service in Japan Tuesday, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The offering has 26,000 movies and TV show episodes available for rent and purchase, but Amazon isn’t currently offering a Prime Instant-like subscription to Japanese customers. The launch coincided with the introduction of the Kindle Fire HDX in Japan.

In Brief

Google’s Chromecast streaming adapter may get all the attention these days, but Google TV is still around as well — and it just got a small boost from French telco SFR, which is now offering an Android-based TV set-top box to its DSL subscribers. The device offers users access to Google Play, YouTube and Chrome, and combines those apps with live broadcast TV. This is the second such operator partnership for Google, which has been selling Android-powered set-top boxes to LG U+ customers in South Korea for some time. And it’s one more example of Google slowly moving away from the Google TV moniker, something we first reported in October.

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In Brief

Google just added another major retailer to distribute its Chromecast streaming stick: Walmart started selling Chromecast in its stores as well as online Monday. The addition of Walmart comes just days after news broke that Chromecast now also sells at Staples as well as via Verizon’s and Motorola’s websites, and in time to make the device a big seller this holiday season.

In Brief

Hot on the heels of the HBO Go app launch, as well as signs that more apps may be supported soon, comes the news that Chromecast is now more widely available for sale. Google’s TV streaming stick started selling at Staples stores as well as through the retailer’s website this week. Motorola is also selling the device through an online store you probably didn’t know existed, and Verizon has begun to sell it online as well as in its flagship store in the Mall of Americas in Minneapolis as well. There’s no word on when Chromecast will find its way into regular Verizon stores, or other retailers, just yet.

On The Web

Netflix recently launched a new, unified user interface across most connected devices, but the company made an exception for Microsoft’s Xbox One. The Netflix app on the Xbox One, which was internally code-named “Project Halo” was custom-designed for the game console, and Netflix’s Lead UX Designer Michelle Koh and visual designer Trevor Cleveland show off their work on Behance.

In Brief

Hola, Elmo: Hulu added a number of new shows to its Hulu Plus kids section Thursday, including episodes of the Sesame Street in English and Spanish, as well as shows like Strawberry Shortcake, Bob the Builder, Bratz and Angelina Ballerina. All of the content is on a non-exclusive basis, meaning that you’ll likely recognize much of it from Netflix — but it’s nonetheless interesting that Hulu is continuing to invest in kids content, which seems to be working well for all online services. And adding Spanish-language titles to the mix is an interesting twist. Hulu launched its Latino offering in late 2011, and has since struck a number of deals to get content for its Spanish-speaking audience.

Good news for everyone lining up to get an Xbox One: Microsoft’s new game console will have a YouTube app available at launch, after all. YouTube announced the app on its blog Wednesday, explaining that it will make use of both voice and gesture control, and […] Read more »

Apple TV users just got another option to watch Antiques Roadshow: PBS launched an app on Apple’s streaming box Tuesday, promising access to “thousands of hours of your favorite PBS programming.” But don’t expect whole seasons of Downton Abbey: Amazon got an exclusive for that show, […] Read more »

On The Web

Comcast plans to launch a digital download store for movies and TV shows by the end of the year, according to Reuters. The cable operators plans to offer videos for sale on its website as well as through its cable boxes, presumably to offer subscribers access to more fare than its existing VOD service has in stock. For the studios, this would be another way to push people towards buying digital movies – but is anyone really interested in owning a movie anymore?

In Brief

SoundCloud celebrated its fifth birthday Wednesday, and the Berlin-based startup marked the occasion by revealing an interesting usage data point: SoundCloud users now upload twelve hours of audio every minute, according to a blog post penned by the company’s CEO Alex Ljung. That’s impressive, but also shows that audio still isn’t as ubiquitous as video on the web. To compare, YouTube surpassed 13 hours of video uploads per minute a little more than two years after its launch. Nowadays, people upload more than 100 hours of video per minute to the service.

On The Web

The major pay TV operators have lost a total of 113,000 customers during their last quarter, according to new numbers from independent research firm MoffettNathanson, by the way of the Los Angeles Times. Time Warner Cable took the biggest hit, losing more than 300,000 subscribers thanks to its retransmission fight with CBS. Most of those were absorbed by DISH, DirecTV and At&T, but some decided to cut the cord entirely. It’s worth noting that Craig Moffet long questioned whether cord cutting even existed. This week, his research note said that “the pay-TV industry has reported its worst 12-month stretch ever.”

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