Media

Spongebob over the top

Nickelodeon may be next to join the unbundling frenzy: Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman revealed during an earnings call Thursday that his company is looking to launch a paid streaming service with Nickelodeon programming that will be heavily mobile-focused, according to Reuters. Dauman didn’t share any additional details, but said that Viacom will have more to announce next month.

Mashable announced late Wednesday night that it has closed a new round of financing worth $17 million, led by Time Warner Investments — the venture-capital arm of the New York-based media conglomerate — and Business Insider is close to announcing its own new round of funding, said to be worth $25 million and led by German media giant Axel Springer, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. These investments come not long after a series of large financing deals for both BuzzFeed, which raised a total of $50 million led by Andreessen Horowitz, and Vice Media — which raised $500 million by selling a $250-million stake in the company to A&E Networks (a joint venture between Disney and Hearst) and a similar-sized stake to the venture-capital fund Technology Crossover Ventures.

More Pottermore

Harry Potter OysterThe seven Harry Potter books, plus three spin-off titles, are now available through the ebook subscription site Oyster. The company says Harry Potter has been in its top-ten searches since launch. The Harry Potter series is also available in Amazon’s subscription service, Kindle Unlimited, so the differentiator here is the spin-offs — Quidditch Through the Ages, Fantastic Beasts & Where to Find Them and The Tales of Beedle the Bard — plus a few promotions that Oyster is running around the titles.

Smack talk pays

It looks like the WWE’s online video venture is starting to pay off: More than one million people have now subscribed to WWE Network, the online-only subscription streaming service that provides access to the league’s 12 key events per year, plus access to reality shows and past matches, for around $10 a month. WWE originally tried to hit that milestone by the end of 2014, but is now expected to sign up even more users before the WWE’s signature WrestleMania event in March.

Heard it here first

Google’s Nexus Player has arrived in stores: Starting this week, the Android TV-based streaming box is being sold by Best Buy, Fry’s and Walmart, as well as on the websites of Amazon, NewEgg, Staples and TigerDirect, according to a Google+ post penned by Google’s Nexus team. Of course, that’s not a big surprise to Gigaom readers: I reported last week that a move to take the Nexus Player to retailers was imminent.

Time to bust out the maps

Music subscription service Rdio launched in another 24 countries Thursday. The list of new markets for Rdio includes the Cayman Islands, Haiti and Jamaica, and brings Rdio’s global footprint to 85 countries and territories. Rdio also announced a partnership with Caribbean mobile operator Digicel that will allow Digicel customers to stream Rdio for free for 30 minutes a day without counting against their data caps. As a comparison, Spotify is now available in 58 markets worldwide.

Data = money

Music recognition specialist Shazam has raised an additional $30 million from undisclosed investors. The new round of funding propels Shazam’s valuation north of $1 billion and brings the total amount of money raised by the company to around $125 million. Shazam now has more than 100 million monthly active users and has been expanding into both TV show and print content recognition. (If you’re interested in what else is possible with music data, make sure to check out our upcoming Structure Data conference, where we’ll have Spotify’s music scientist Brian Whitman.)

Thunder and lightning

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has sued Chinese file sharing operator Xunlei for copyright infringement, according to the Hollywood Reporter. The lawsuit, which was filed in China, comes after Hollywood struck a deal with Xunlei last year that forced the service to filter infringing content. The studios contend that Xunlei never followed through on the deal, which apparently included requirements to block pirate sites, terminate repeat offenders and run any content licensing agreement by the MPAA for approval, according to Torrentfreak.

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