Instagram Launches Long-Form Video Service Called IGTV

By , Variety

Instagram unveiled IGTV, a new service for long-form videos from professional Instagram creators, at an event in San Francisco Wednesday morning. IGTV will live both within the main Instagram app, as well as via a dedicated app for iOS and Android. “It’s mobile first, it’s simple and it’s high quality,” said Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom.

Systrom positioned IGTV as Instagram’s answer to shifting entertainment consumption habits. “Teens may be watching less TV, but they are watching more creators online,” he said.

At its heart, IGTV will be both a hub within the existing Instagram app, as well as a new dedicated app that will allow users to watch IGTV videos. These are basically vertical videos produced by some of Instagram’s top creators, and curated based on past viewing behavior of Instagram’s users.

However, he said that Instagram ultimately wanted to allow creators to make a living on the service. “This is obviously a very reasonable place to end up,” he said about revenue sharing.

Instagram had invited a number of creators to its event, including Lele Pons, who has 25 million followers on the platform, as well as beauty vlogger Manny Gutierrez and video game streamer Ninja. Both Gutierrez and Ninja hadn’t produced any videos for IGTV yet, and were still trying to figure out how to best use the new platform. Ninja said that he was a bit concerned about making the vertical video format work for video game clips, and mused that he might do more personal, video blog-style clips.

Gutierrez stressed in an interview with Variety at the sidelines of the event that it was essential for Instagram to give creators a way to make money with IGTV, especially because of the added work the new format required. “Monetization is definitely going to need to roll out,” he said. “Creating longer content definitely takes a lot of work.”

Ninja echoed that sentiment, but was also optimistic about the general effect IGTV will have on the video creator community. Added competition to YouTube would ultimately result in better deals for creators, he argued. “The more the better. For sure.”

The Facebook-owned video service also announced that it will give users the ability to upload videos of up to 10 minutes in length. Select creators will be able to upload videos of up to an hour. Instagram is also allowing anyone to create their own IGTV channel. Previously, Instagram limited uploaded videos to 60 seconds, and capped Stories at 15 seconds. Live-streams were limited to one hour.

The move to bring more professionally created video to Instagram’s 1 billion users comes as Facebook is also doubling down on Watch, its very own YouTube competitor within the core Facebook app. This week, Facebook announced a series of interactive shows that feature polls, quizzes, and more. On Tuesday, Facebook held its very first Creator Day in Los Angeles ahead of Vidcon, which is starting in Southern California later this week.


AMC challenges MoviePass with its own subscription plan

By Daniel Arkin, NBC News

Watch your back, MoviePass. AMC is coming for you.

AMC Theatres, the largest theater chain in America, says it is launching a subscription plan. AMC Stubs A-List will allow members to see up to three movies a week for $19.95 a month — and get discounts on concessions.

The move comes amid a tense battle between AMC and MoviePass, the app-based service that charges subscribers $9.95 a month to see one movie per day, upending the traditional exhibition business model.

In its press release announcing the news, AMC touted the “sustainable price” of the Stubs A-List program — an apparent shot at MoviePass, which has raised eyebrows with its suspiciously inexpensive monthly fee.

MoviePass, for its part, fired back in a tweet on Wednesday morning: “AMC has repeatedly disparaged our model as a way to discourage our growth because all along they wanted to launch their own, more expensive plan.”

“We want to make movies more accessible, they want more profit,” the company added.

AMC, however, plans to offer subscriber perks that might sweeten the deal. Stubs A-List subscribers will be able to watch all three movies on the same day, get into movies they have already seen, and reserve tickets in advance.

MoviePass, it should be noted, offers none of those perks.


TNReady issues were vendor’s fault, not cyber attack, Tennessee officials say

, Nashville Tennessean

Large-scale TNReady issues that Tennessee officials feared was an apparent cyber attack this spring instead originated with an unauthorized change made by the state’s vendor to its systems.

The issues confirm the fears of some lawmakers that the problems again originated from the testing system itself, rather than an outside source.

The unauthorized change and subsequent issues mean the state will pay less for Questar’s work, according to a Tennessee Department of Education news release.

“It appears, thankfully, that there was not an outside actor who attacked Questar’s data system,” according to Sara Gast, education department spokeswoman, in the news release. “No student data was breached.”

Gast said in the release that the issues that began on April 17 were the result of how Questar Assessment’s systems stored information connected to its text-to-speech function.

She said Questar made an unauthorized change to text-to-speech, which had previously operated without problems during the state’s fall administration.

“Questar’s internal and external investigations indicate that the source of the anomalous data pattern is believed to be the result of a configuration with the cache server,” said Brad Baumgartner, Questar’s chief operating officer. “We have applied a configuration change and believe to have resolved the issue. We will continue to work with our internal technology team and external partners to validate this.”

 The state will pay $2.5 million less for the test

Gast said the Tennessee Department of Education has informed Questar that the department is reducing the amount it will give the company for the spring online assessment administration by $2.5 million to account for the substandard performance.

The state offered the company a two-year, $30-million per year contract in 2016 after the state fired its previous vendor, which was unable to deliver online testing.

The spring testing window was mired with problems, with many districts across the state delaying testing when connectivity issues occurred.

Tennessee Education Commissioner Candice McQueen said before lawmakers on Wednesday that the issues with the vendor can’t be excused.

“We are absolutely apologizing for what experienced with the vendor and, ultimately, it wasn’t the way we wanted it to end up at all,” McQueen said. “We have to get the delivery piece right. Our work is to make sure we have a vendor and external review in place to allow us to move forward.”

The state is allowing proposals for a new test vendor

Last week, McQueen announced that the state will renew its contract with Questar for one more year due to how hard it will be to find a new vendor in time for the administration of the 2018-19 school year test.

The contract will be amended to ensure certain performance standards, she said. The contract will likely cost the state less overall.

McQueen said at the time the state will also open up the bidding process for a new contract in the fall to take over the test in 2019-20 and beyond. A new contract is expected by next spring, she said.

Through the contract amendment, Questar is also required to undergo a third-party analysis of their technological capabilities.

Tennessee officials were the ones to discover it wasn’t a cyber attack

McQueen said to lawmakers the storage issues with the text-to-chat function overloaded Questar’s infrastructure. The issues caused problems across multiple other states contracted with Questar.

Those states include:

  • New York
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • Tennessee
  • South Dakota

Tennessee officials and a third-party investigator first discovered that Questar’s problems weren’t from a cyber attack, McQueen said.

“They were coming to the conclusion themselves,” McQueen said.

Lawmakers are concerned about the future of the test

McQueen has been adamant the state must move forward with online testing, with Tennessee being one of only 10 that haven’t moved to online testing.

Tennessee legislators have expressed concern over the state’s testing vendor and its systems, especially after 2016 when under a different testing vendor the state needed to cancel online spring testing altogether.

Rep. Jeremy Faison, R-Cosby, during a Wednesday questioning of McQueen over the TNReady issues, said the state must get testing right.

He asked that the state move forward with the input of teachers.

“In your department, sometimes you are guilty of taking a 30,000-foot view,” Faison said. “Sometimes that is good, but sometimes it is also good to have boots on the ground. Going forward, I’m not sure what is going to happen with a new governor, but I want to make sure we don’t take our foot off the gas.”

Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, however, said he has no faith in the test vendor or the state’s ability to properly administer an online test.

“If Questar fails, and they will … maybe next year we can cry defeat and move on from this endeavor to something else,” Stewart said.


Flying Hot Dog Strikes Woman in the Face During Phillies Game

“You would think you would get hit by a baseball,” the Plymouth Meeting woman said. “Instead of a flying hot dog.”

Phillies fan Kathy McVay continues to recover from a black eye she suffered while watching the team play against the St. Louis Cardinals on Monday. Yet it wasn’t a foul ball that caused her injury.

“You would think you would get hit by a baseball,” the Plymouth Meeting woman said. “Instead of a flying hot dog.”

McVay was sitting near home plate with two of her friends during the game. She says it was either the 6th or 7th inning when the Phillie Phanatic came out and began shooting hot dogs into the stands from a cannon.

McVay is suffering from a torn rotator cuff and is set for surgery on Tuesday. She never imagined her inability to lift her arm would be a danger for her at that very moment.

“All of a sudden I looked up and here comes this hot dog,” she said. “Since I can’t lift my shoulder…I couldn’t catch it or get it out of the way that fast.”

The flying hot dog struck McVay in the face, knocking off her glasses.

“Next thing I knew I was bleeding and we were going to First Aid,” she said.

McVay and her friends left the game and went to Einstein Hospital, where doctors took X-rays and she underwent a CAT scan. Fortunately for McVay, nothing was broken. She does have a black eye and a surreal moment she’ll never forget.

“At least it’s funny,” McVay said. “It’s a story I can tell people. My only thing is just to warn people just to be careful.”

The Phillies reached out to McVay Tuesday to apologize. They also offered her free tickets to a future game. McVay says the incident hasn’t scared her off from going.

“I love the Phillies. I would definitely go,” she said. “I just have a story to tell.”

She’ll do one thing differently during the next Phillies game, however.

“Next time we’re going to the nosebleed section,” she said.

A Phillies spokesperson told NBC10 the incident was the first they’ve ever heard of a fan being injured by a hot dog.


Grizzlies expect interest in No. 4 pick to intensify, sources say

Jonathan Givony, ESPN

The Memphis Grizzlies are in discussions with a number of teams to trade the No. 4 pick in Thursday’s NBA draft, league sources told ESPN. Any such trade would likely include forward Chandler Parsons, whose contract is considered an albatross because of his knee problems.

The Grizzlies have several potential trade partners, as the Dallas MavericksOrlando MagicChicago BullsNew York KnicksDenver NuggetsBoston Celtics and LA Clippers have shown varying degrees of interest in a deal, a source told ESPN.

According to sources, the Grizzlies don’t anticipate the most serious proposals to arrive until they are on the clock Thursday, shortly before 8 p.m. ET. While contingent deals can be made earlier, the Grizzlies and other teams might want to see which prospects are available at No. 4 before deciding on a deal.

In such a trade, the Grizzlies hope to move back a few spots rather than move out of the lottery altogether, sources told ESPN. The organization wants to add talent even as it potentially trades its biggest free-agent acquisition ever to get out from under the $49.2 million remaining on Parsons’ contract over the next two seasons.

Memphis might be able to trade back to No. 6 (owned by Orlando) or No. 7 (owned by Chicago) on draft night. Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr. is a favorite of the Memphis front office and especially the coaching staff, according to sources. He is currently projected to be selected within the top seven picks in the latest ESPN mock draft.

If Orlando is willing to include Evan Fournier in a trade for Parsons, that could facilitate a deal involving the No. 4 and No. 6 picks, but the Magic currently appear reluctant to do so, instead preferring to give up Bismack Biyombo.

Knicks coach David Fizdale met with Texas center Mohamed Bamba on Wednesday afternoon at the Grand Hyatt hotel in New York, sources told ESPN’s Ian Begley. Director of scouting Kristian Petesic was also present. It’s extremely unlikely Bamba would be available for the Knicks at their No. 9 pick, another indication New York has considered moving up via trade.

Knee soreness has led to Parsons playing in only 70 games since joining the Grizzlies in 2016. For Memphis, trading Parsons would potentially create significant salary-cap space in the summer of 2019, and only point guard Mike Conley is under a guaranteed contract for the 2020-21 season.

Still, due to NBA rules requiring matching salaries for teams over the salary cap, any trade Memphis makes on Thursday will need to bring back a contract or several contracts of significant size, at least for the 2018-19 season.


Florida Mall to Be America’s Biggest—by a Long Shot

You’ll definitely need a map
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 20, 2018 12:07 PM CDT

(NEWSER) – In an era of shuttered shopping malls, the biggest one in America is set to be built. Officials in Florida’s Miami-Dade County last month approved zoning changes for a 6.2-million-square-foot shopping and entertainment center on a 174-acre site off the Florida Turnpike, complete with an indoor water park, lake, ski slope, ice-climbing wall, 2,000 hotel rooms, and up to 1,200 stores, reports the Wall Street Journal. American Dream Miami—to be “twice the size of the nation’s current largest mall” at an estimated cost of $4 billion, per Business Insider—is the somewhat outdated brainchild of Canada’s Triple Five Worldwide Group, run by the Ghermezian family. They know a thing or two about shopping malls, having built Canada’s West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in the world when it opened 35 years ago, as well as Minnesota’s Mall of America.

“But c’mon, Ghermezians. America is over-stored, over-shopped and over-bought … And does anybody really need to go snow skiing in Florida?” Warren Shoulberg writes at Forbes. “I don’t see it competing with Disney World,” adds a VP of Miami-based Continental Real Estate Companies. Their complaints join those of residents worried about traffic and the environment, and of critics who watched Triple Five struggle to fund New Jersey’s as-yet-unopened American Dream Meadowlands mall after taking over the site in 2011, per Critics are also wary of the public subsidies that might be used to open the mall, slated to be the most expensive ever built, but American Dream Miami plans to “be built by private dollars,” a lawyer for Triple Five says. Countering what he calls “a campaign of disinformation” by local mall owners, he adds the mall will create 25,000 jobs and attract 30 million tourists annually.


Amazon try-before-you-buy Prime Wardrobe opens for all Prime members


SAN FRANCISCO — Amazon’s newest clothing offering could help it break into fashion.  A service now available to all Prime members allows buyers to try on clothes before buying them — a way for online delivery to mimic the experience of shopping in a store.

On Wednesday, Amazon announced its clothing home try-on service, Prime Wardrobe, is available for all Prime members in the U.S. The company launched an invite-only beta version of the service last year. After a test-run in which invitees could order thousands of different styles, Amazon decided the service was a good fit and opened it up to all U.S. Prime members.

Amazon Wardrobe comes at no additional cost to existing Prime members.

The service allows shoppers to order clothes, shoes and accessories to try on at home. After ordering at least three and up to eight items, members have seven days to decide whether to keep their selections or send them back in the provided re-sealable box using a pre-paid label — for no charge.

There is no upfront charge. Customers are only charged for the items they keep when the seven days are up.

Prime Wardrobe will rival established online shopping and subscription services like  Stitch Fix and Nordstrom’s Trunk Club, though those services offer a personal stylist. On Prime Wardrobe the customer picks their own clothes.

Cooper Smith, director of Amazon IQ Research at Gartner L2, said this investment in apparel is a long time coming.

Amazon is trying to get customers to shop for brands and brands want to reach coveted Prime customers, he said, and Amazon hasn’t fully invested in this business model before.

Smith said the new service could help Amazon sell high-priced fashion items.

Amazon has “been selling a lot of clothing, but they haven’t been able to sell fashion,” Smith said. “Fashion brands want to reach Prime users.”

Since the beta version was released, private label brands have been top sellers. Women have been buying denim and dresses, men have ordered tops and casual pants and, for kids, shoes are most popular, according to  Amazon.


Gatorade is going sugarless for the first time in its 53-year-history

Gatorade is ditching sugar.

by Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN Money

Gatorade Zero, a thirst quencher without sugar or carbs, hit stores around the country this week. It comes in orange, lemon lime, and glacier cherry, and is priced in line with the brand’s classic sports drink.

 The new drink is a tacit admission that the heyday of sugary sports drinks is winding down.

Related: Trouble in Big Food: America’s cereal, soda and soup companies are in turmoil

Gatorade has controlled the nearly $8 billion US sports drink industry for decades, grabbing about 75% of the market, according to research firm Euromonitor International. The brand has been a boon for Pepsi, which has owned Gatorade since 2001.

The drink is a fixture of sports sidelines through sponsorships with pro leagues and endorsement deals for global stars, including Michael Jordan, Serena Williams and Lionel Messi. Gatorade’s 1991 “Be Like Mike” commercial helped propel the Jordan craze, while Glacier freeze and fruit punch Gatorade baths have become marks of Super Bowl-winning coaches.

But Gatorade is showing signs of fatigue. Sales ticked down 0.5% last year to $5.9 billion in the United States, according to Euromonitor. The brand lost market share, too.

Although high on electrolytes that help athletes rehydrate as they sweat, a 20-ounce drink has 34 grams of sugar, 36 grams of carbohydrates, and 140 calories. Health-conscious athletes have grown wary of sweeteners and added carbs.

“Athletes have heard ad nauseum about the need to hydrate,” said Leslie Bonci, a longtime sports dietitian who is currently a consultant for the NFL’s Kansas City Chiefs. “They know electrolytes are important, but they are looking for options.”

She said many players are pushing away Gatorade for coconut, sparkling, electrolyte, and flavored waters with natural ingredients and enhanced functional benefits to meet their changing training regimens.

Health shifts and the explosion of new drinks and flavors to compete with big brands on store shelves have reshaped the beverage industry. Carbonated soft drink volume sales have fallen 13 years in a row, according to trade publication Beverage Digest.

“The same trends that emerged within soft drinks in the last decade are revealing themselves in the sports drink market,” said Beverage Digest executive editor Duane Stanford. “A growing number of consumers are moderating their sugar intake, and some don’t want sugar at all.”

Gatorade has responded to the trends by expanding its lineup in recent years to give athletes more choices.

In 2016, it added higher-priced G Organic, which came without artificial coloring and had fewer ingredients and sugar than the traditional version. Last year, it redesigned its G2 low-calorie line to make “lower sugar” stand out on the bottle, Stanford said.

Those changes have not resonated. “We worry that Gatorade’s artificial and sugary ingredient profile (plus lack of awareness on low-sugar versions) has caused its brand image to shift toward being less healthy than alternatives,” Barclays analyst Lauren Lieberman said in an April research report.

Zero is Gatorade’s newest play to reach consumers who’ve turned away from sports drinks.

“Gatorade Zero will address the large and growing demand by athletes for additional hydration options,” Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi told analysts in April. “Zero will give our athletes more flexibility.”

With the new drink, Gatorade will take on Coca Cola’s(KO) Powerade Zero for the first time. Coke launched Powerade Zero a decade ago, and it has been a bright spot in the sports hydration market.

Gatorade Zero could also help the brand fend off BodyArmor, an upstart sports drink that counts Kobe Bryant as a top investor, and markets itself as a “more natural” choice for athletes.

Related: How much money Kobe Bryant made playing basketball

BodyArmor’s sales grew 78% in 2016 to $235 million as it entered into more stores with the backing of Dr. Pepper Snapple’s (DPS) massive US distribution network.

“They’re capitalizing on consumers’ desire to try new beverages within well-known categories and also move to natural ingredients and flavors,” Stanford said.

BodyArmor is now targeting Gatorade directly. It’s running a new ad campaign featuring James Harden and Mike Trout with the tagline, “Thanks, Gatorade. We’ll take it from here.”

“James Harden wouldn’t go to the game wearing outdated fashion,” says a narrator in the ads. “So why would he choose an outdated sports drink?”

Pepsi’s Nooyi didn’t mention BodyArmor on its last earnings call, but she said a “new competitor” had dropped prices and chipped away slightly at Gatorade’s market share when it first landed on shelves.

Yet Gatorade is trying to play the long game. It plans to hold prices steady, even if means temporarily sacrificing share. BodyArmor’s sales fell off after initially entering new stores and its lower pricing strategy is “not sustainable in the long term,” Nooyi claimed.

“Gatorade just has to be very responsible and very careful in its response,” she said. “It’s got to be surgical, and that’s what we are doing. We are watching Gatorade shares like a hawk.”


Summer solstice, the feeling of ‘longer’ days, arrives Thursday


Sweat season is finally here.

The summer solstice – the annual moment when the sun is at its highest point in the sky – occurs Thursday at 6:07 a.m. EDT. That marks the beginning of astronomical summer in the Northern Hemisphere.

In reality, it has been summer for three weeks. Meteorologists consider summer June, July and August — the hottest three months of the year.

Hot weather got a jump-start as the USA sweltered through its warmest May since record-keeping began in the late 1800s.

The forecast for the next few weeks shows warmer-than-average temperatures for nearly the entire nation, according to the Climate Prediction Center.

On average, there is a one-month lag between the solstice and peak summer temperatures, according to climatologist Brian Brettschneider.

The summer solstice is the moment when the sun is directly above the Tropic of Cancer. That’s the farthest north the sun moves in the sky, which is why the days close to the solstice have the most daylight of the year.

People in Anchorage, Alaska, for example, will get 19 hours of daylight, and those in Seattle and New York City will see more than 15 hours. Los Angeles, Dallas and Atlanta will see more than 14 hours of daylight; Miami and Honolulu will see less than 14 hours.

Some people call it “the longest day,” but to be precise, it’s the day with the most daylight, since every “day” has 24 hours.

The amount of daylight will be consistent for a few more days before shrinking each day until the winter solstice in late December.

Many people around the world celebrate the summer solstice with music and festivities. In England, hundreds of people travel to the ancient site Stonehenge to celebrate the first day of summer. Solstice celebrations there have been going on for thousands of years.

Also Thursday: It’s the winter solstice in the Southern Hemisphere, meaning it’s going to get colder for the 12 percent of the world’s population that lives there.


2018 NBA draft: Start time, how to watch, pick order for every team


It’s that time of year again.

The NBA season is over, free agency hasn’t yet begun, and all 30 teams are about to select players who will shape their future — for better or worse.

Thursday night’s NBA draft will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. It will air live on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET. Additional draft analysis shows will air at the same time on ESPN2 and on Twitter. The draft will also be available on ESPN radio and the ESPN app.

Want to catch up on the draft’s top prospects? Our latest mock has you covered.

2018 NBA draft order

  1. Phoenix
  2. Sacramento
  3. Atlanta
  4. Memphis
  5. Dallas
  6. Orlando
  7. Chicago
  8. Cleveland
  9. New York
  10. Philadelphia
  11. Charlotte
  12. LA Clippers
  13. LA Clippers
  14. Denver
  15. Washington
  16. Phoenix
  17. Milwaukee
  18. San Antonio
  19. Atlanta
  20. Minnesota
  21. Utah
  22. Chicago
  23. Indiana
  24. Portland
  25. Los Angeles Lakers
  26. Philadelphia
  27. Boston
  28. Golden State
  29. Brooklyn
  30. Atlanta
  31. Phoenix
  32. Memphis
  33. Dallas
  34. Atlanta
  35. Orlando
  36. New York
  37. Sacramento
  38. Philadelphia
  39. Philadelphia
  40. Brooklyn
  41. Orlando
  42. Detroit
  43. Denver
  44. Washington
  45. Charlotte
  46. Houston
  47. Los Angeles Lakers
  48. Minnesota
  49. San Antonio
  50. Indiana
  51. New Orleans
  52. Utah
  53. Oklahoma City
  54. Dallas
  55. Charlotte
  56. Philadelphia
  57. Oklahoma City
  58. Denver
  59. Phoenix
  60. Philadelphia