It was November 1, 2014 at a downtown Los Angeles Halloween rooftop party where, according to Dann Saxton, the Co-founder and Head of Content for VRLIVE, the first VR 360 video live stream took place.

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“It was called the Zombie Prom,” Saxton said, telling the story of that night. “600 people on the roof with a full stage, live music, a full bar," and a night of the living dead featuring prom queens and kings, all live streamed in VR 360 video out to the entire world.

“It has been ELEVEN days, Stephen,” Jon Stewart said during his January 31st guest appearance on Stephen Colbert’s Late Show, “Eleven. Fucking. Days. ELEVEN!” And then, looking into the audience and the camera, he stated what we were all experiencing, “The presidency is supposed to age the president, NOT the public.”

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That was only eighteen f*#king days ago. What’s happened since then plays out like a TV reality show based on a mashup of “Hunt For Red October 2: Defecting TO Russia,” “Dumb and Dumber,” and “ Liar Liar.”

Having been one of the lucky ones to win an Echo at the Capital One House activation at SXSW last year, I’ve called on Alexa to start my morning every day since. “Alexa, play BBC Radio 6 Music,” and she complies, pulling up the British station on TuneIn. Amazon’s Alexa made a lot of waves (no pun intended) at this year’s CES as the voice assistant expanded its support offerings, from cars and refrigerators, to Lenovo’s similar device to the Echo.

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Amazon Music Unlimited and Alexa became the hot topic of conversation between Billboard, Jeff Bezos, and the vice president for Amazon Music, Steve Boom. Coming in at number 12 on Billboard's 2017 Power 100 list, the two execs discussed how Amazon Music Unlimited has some differentiating, cloud-based, machine learning architecture planned for its service that, when combined with the Echo, enables a user to create unique playlists, “Alexa, shuffle British Grime from last year,” or by your mood, “Alexa, play sad shoegazer rock from the ‘90s,” all through voice activation versus manually searching for and setting up a playlist on Spotify or Apple Music.

“If you’re asking people to pay for streaming music in a world where there are a lot of free alternatives, then you need to build a service that they want to use every day,” Boom told Billboard. “And that’s one of the beauties of this device. What we are seeing is that people are listening to more music than ever: we see from data, and we hear anecdotally from customers.”

 

Just WON an Amazon Echo from @capitalone!! The app now works with Alexa. #SXSW #SXSW2016 #capitalonehouse

A photo posted by Kim Owens (@kaffeinebuzz) on

Even without this unique feature, Billboard reported Amazon's Prime Music subscribers increased by 50 percent in 2016, which is quite a feat considering it only has a fraction of the catalog offerings of its competitors.

One needs to factor in that Amazon’s ecommerce and myriad of content offerings (books, newspapers, magazines, gaming, streaming video), along with its Prime service, give the company a powerful market advantage. Alexa’s voice recognition technology is also superior to Apple’s Siri, which STILL can’t do a simple map or contacts search most of the time, making you want to throw your iPhone out your car window. That woman needs to get a hearing aid.

Kicking off this week's #StreamingBuzz with romance, given it's Valentine's Day week, and the relationships being cultivated in the digital and streaming entertainment space, which look to be businesses matches made in heaven.

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Timing is everything, and there couldn’t be a more perfect time for “Where’s the Revolution?” the first and newest single from Depeche Mode’s upcoming 14th studio album, Spirit.

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Directed by Anton Corbijn with a WWII era filter, the lyrics resonate with the political and cultural climate that’s been percolating since the early Bush years (“They manipulate and threaten /
 With terror as a weapon”) and are fully boiling over in the Trump era (“Scare you till you're stupefied / Wear you down until you're on their side”).

In addition to the endless lists of chaotic and unreal moves made by the new administration in the past few weeks, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is already siding with corporations at the expense of the public, content creators, and media platforms.

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The new FCC chairman and former lawyer for Verizon, Ajit Pai, took the lead in rolling back consumer protection regulations and the net neutrality progress made during the Obama administration by his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, including closing out the inquiry in zero-rating offerings by AT&T and Verizon that violated the FCC’s Open Internet order. Comcast had also received an inquiry request by the FCC for its Stream TV content that was exempt from applying to a customer’s service data caps. That too is in the circular file.

2016 has been the year for many, many things. Some surreal, others dumbfounding, but in the entertainment world, live streaming content has seen positive growth and evolution far beyond what it was last year. Major TV networks have been launching technology and consumer-based business innovation that’s already been at play in the music industry for some time.

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Charles Raggio, Sr. Director, Artist Partnerships and Branded Content at TuneIn, has been busy cultivating deals and plans to further capitalize and grow what he and his team have already put in place, extending the streaming radio platform into the festival and concert space.

Bounce TV announces a new live streaming app for Brown Sugar, AT&T's highly-anticipated DirecTV Now service is getting ready for its blast off, China's Suning pays big bucks for the English Premier League rights, and more in this week's ICYMI Streaming Buzz.

 

Brown Sugar Streaming App, “Just Like Netflix, Only Blacker”

Forty-plus years after Blaxploitation broke new ground for African Americans in film, Bounce TV, the African-American broadcast network, has launched the Brown Sugar streaming app on iOS and Android, offering customers with an “extensive library of iconic black movies, all un-edited and commercial-free as they were originally seen in theaters,” the network said in a statement.

In January of this year, Netflix spread its streaming wings into 190 countries, all with one full swoop. Amazon has been on Netflix’s heels ever since, as one would expect. And while the Bezos-run company took eleven months to catch up, it looks like Prime Video will expand from only streaming in the US, UK, Germany, and Japan, to 200 countries in December, including India, which was announced this past July.

The new broke from the hosts – James May, Richard Hammond, and Jeremy Clarkson - of the newly launched The Grand Tour, an Amazon Original Series formally known as Top Gear on BBC. The series first aired on November 18 after the teaser video gave the ‘going global’ news in true Top Gear fashion (sorry, the new name will take some getting used to), including a bit of self-deprecation and sarcasm along with a few informative facts.

This week’s Streaming Buzz will be a bit more brief. It’s difficult to think about the world of streaming when the world as you thought you knew it becomes very surreal. As the fog of dismay rises, streaming, both live and on-demand, will actually become even more important to our lives, enabling citizen content creators to make their voices known, to bring about awareness of important topics and causes, giving us moments of escape in live sports, film, television, and music while delivering news (hopefully more truthful than fake) to expand on our levels of education, empathy, and entertainment. All important assets for lives well lived and evolving for the better.

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People Turned to Showtime’s Streaming Service for Stephen Colbert’s Election Night Show

“We all feel the way Rudi Giuliani looks,” said Stephen Colbert in the closing moments of his one-off Election Night special on Showtime. Funny ‘cause it’s true Mr. Colbert. Instead of tuning into the major network news, many in the country signed up for Showtime’s standalone streaming service, driving the second biggest night of sign ups since the service was launched in July of last year, according to Quartz.

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