MediAvataar's News Desk
UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland are the latest countries to launch Disney+
Disney+ to launch in France on April 7th
The service launches with 26 Disney+ Originals alongside an extensive collection of titles from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic, and more
Disney+, the highly anticipated streaming service from The Walt Disney Company, launches today in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria, and Switzerland. The service will launch in France on April 7th. In light of concerns regarding the current ability of certain broadband infrastructure to handle the anticipated consumer demand for Disney+, the service will now feature a lower overall bandwidth utilisation by at least 25%.
With over 500 films, 26 exclusive original movies and series and thousands of television episodes from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and more, Disney+ is the new streaming home for some of the world’s most beloved stories.
“Launching in seven markets simultaneously marks a new milestone for Disney+,“ said Kevin Mayer, Chairman of Walt Disney Direct-to-Consumer & International. “As the streaming home for Disney, Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, Disney+ delivers high-quality, optimistic storytelling that fans expect from our brands, now available broadly, conveniently, and permanently on Disney+. We humbly hope that this service can bring some much-needed moments of respite for families during these difficult times."
Starting today, subscribers can enjoy 26 Disney+ Originals titles including “The Mandalorian,” the epic first-ever live-action Star Wars series; “Lady and the Tramp,” a live-action re-telling of the 1955 animated classic; “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series,” the all-new scripted series set at the real-life East High featured in the hit movies; “The World According to Jeff Goldblum” docu-series from National Geographic; “Marvel’s Hero Project,” which celebrates extraordinary kids making a difference in their communities; “Encore!,” executive produced by the multi-talented Kristen Bell; “The Imagineering Story” a 6-part documentary from Emmy and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Leslie Iwerks and animated short film collections “SparkShorts” and “Forky Asks A Question” from Pixar Animation Studios.
Disney+ is also the new streaming home of the iconic animated series “The Simpsons,” with over 600 episodes available together on-demand for the first time. At launch, seasons 1 to 30 will be available, with season 31 coming to the service later in the year.
Watch Anywhere, Anytime
Audiences can stream Disney+ on nearly all major mobile and connected TV devices from today, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs. Subscribers can enjoy commercial-free viewing, up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on up to ten devices, personalised recommendations, and the ability to set up to seven different profiles, including the ability for parents to set Kids Profiles that have an easy to navigate, child-friendly interface to access age-appropriate content.
Consumers can subscribe up for Disney+ directly or via in-app purchase from the following platforms and devices:
Amazon (Fire TV devices, Fire TV Edition smart TVs, and Fire Tablets)
Apple (iPhone, iPad, iPod touch and Apple TV, and fully integrated with the Apple TV app in the UK and Germany; customers can subscribe to Disney+ via in-app purchase)
Google (Android phones, Android TV devices, Google Chromecast and Chromecast built-in devices)
LG Smart TVs with webOS
Microsoft (Xbox One)
Roku (Roku® streaming players and Roku TV™ models) in the UK and Ireland from today, and France from 7th April
Samsung Smart TVs
Sony / Sony Interactive Entertainment (Android-based Sony TVs and PlayStation®4)
Through a comprehensive distribution plan and several strategic agreements, Disney+ is also available across multiple premier distributors in Europe with regional deals including:
Deutsche Telekom in Germany
O2 in the UK
Telefonica in Spain
TIM in Italy
Canal+ in France (from April 7th)
These providers will have the ability to include Disney+ in wholesale and retail packages for their subscribers. Specifics of those offers vary per company.
Disney also has a retail distribution deal with Sky, making Disney+ available in the UK and Ireland on Sky Q, to be followed by NOW TV in the coming months.
The march of COVID 19 dominated world news this week with impact across the entertainment landscape—from the widespread closure of cinemas, to mass demand for broadband capacity, to the cancellation or postponement of major sporting events, including the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Some other business continued nearly as normal, however. Disney+ launched in many key European markets this week, although it has postponed its French launch until 7 April. In Germany, reports suggest that Disney+'s exclusive partnership with Deustche Telekom mean it will not be launching on Sky Q in the nation until April 2021.
The COVID 19 crisis has led to a boom in home streaming, and many other new launches are sticking with previously set schedules. NBCUniversal's Peacock is still planning to launch in July, while Quibi's April and HBO Max's May launches are still pegged to go ahead too. Indian streaming service Eros Now is adding an English-language layer to its upcoming service upgrade Eros Now Prime, bolstered by a content partnership with NBCUniversal.
A few mergers and acquisitions also completed this week, with FaceBank, a virtual entertainment company focusing on sports and celebrities, buying sports streamer fuboTV. In India, Facebook is reportedly looking to buy a 10% stake in disruptive mobile operator Reliance Jio, in a deal which could be worth multiple billions of dollars. Italy's Mediaset, which appears to be moving forward with its pan-European plans under the brand MediaForEurope, has increased its stake in Germany's ProSieben from 15.1% to 20%.
With most sports on hiatus, the upcoming rights tender for German Bundesliga soccer, which was originally scheduled for May, has been pushed back to June, with all matches currently postponed until at least 30 April 2020. China, which has begun to ease off on its lockdown as new cases of COVID 19 slow, is hoping to give its circa 700 newly re-opened cinemas a boost by re-releasing select classic blockbuster movies, including the Avengers and Avatar franchises.
Finally, as broadband networks struggle with the strain placed on them by mass home working and self isolation, YouTube has joined the ever-increasing list of streaming companies (that already includes Netflix and Facebook) switching the default playback quality rate to standard definition (SD) globally.
Source: Ampere Analysis
Kids Insights, the global leader in kids market intelligence, issued the first in a series – Kids Insights Global Toys & Games report 2020. The study reveals a comprehensive overview of key challenges, opportunities and trends which they are seeing from the results of surveying more than 105,000 children a year across the UK, US, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and India.
As discussed in the Global Toys & Games report 2020, while the industry braced difficult trading conditions across a number of markets in 2019, there are still bright spots. In an ever fast- moving and evolving toy landscape, top trends and what influences purchase decision making can shift at a remarkably fast pace.
Key points from Kids Insights Global Toys & Games report 2020:
Children’s rising financial means and empowerment. In the US, children are receiving $3.76bn a year to spend as they wish, and with a growing number of children using Debit cards, they have more financial means, empowerment and freedom than any previous generation.
Children also have far greater choice when it comes to how they spend their money, with them spending £581m on INXP in the UK (in-experience purchasing such as apps and in-game), compared to £969m on toys and games.
In the UK, over a third of 6-9s play with classic board games such as Monopoly, Guess Who and Jenga monthly. Tweens who play board games as a hobby reported feeling frequently happy 51% more than average.
The impact of Generation Speak, as children move from controlling their devices by typing, swiping to voice. Over 20% of 10-12s in India prefer to control their device by their voice.
Demand for licensed properties continues to grow, driven by an increase in gaming and YouTube properties. Minecraft, Fortnite, Sonic, Ryan’s World and JoJo Siwa all performed well over the last 12 months.
The annual spend on advertising and marketing to children by companies is forecast to reach $4.6bn by 2021*. The biggest winners of kids digital ad spend expansion is projected to be kidtech-enabled content (compliant with children digital privacy laws), YouTube as well as VOD/OTT.
While action figures are boosted by TV & movie releases and Fortnite overall, it is argued that there is now more competition in relation to licensing as boys increasingly opt for video gaming over traditional toys. As consumers ask more inclusiveness/diversity in toys, dolls are the first category to embrace the initiative. When it comes to Arts & Crafts, it is one the least licensed toy category yet, LEGO’s entry with its new DOTS range may potentially rejuvenate it in this respect. In pocket money toys, kids’ rising financial empowerment drives sales. In the UK, 3-18 year olds receive £248m ($321.95m) per month (£2.9bn, $3.76bn a year) to spend as they wish. Debit cards are increasingly being used by more British children aided by new financial products such as pre-paid cards like GoHenry.
Utku Tansel LLB, MBA Head of Global Industry Reports Kids Insights commented:
“I have been working in this industry for 12 years and in my career, I have not witnessed such speed of change. The industry is increasingly embracing sustainability and inclusivity while AR & AI push limits on innovation-driven largely by ever rising smartphone/tablet penetration among children. Our study takes readers to an exciting journey shaped by key developments and opportunities showcased in a new world order. “
Nick Richardson, CEO Kids Insights adds:
“The report provides us with an opportunity to reflect on how much our industry has changed in recent years, months and weeks. Many of us will remember the tried and trusted formula for this industry over the years: “X” number of TVR’s, ensuring key retail stockists were on-board and on occasion utilising key licensed properties. But when it comes to this generation of children they are like no other, constantly connected, with very different attitudes, behaviour and consumption traits than previous generations.”
A variety of companies with MIT ties are working to address aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
As the world grapples with the public health crises and myriad disruptions brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, many efforts to address its impact are underway.
Several of those initiatives are being led by companies that were founded by MIT alumni, professors, students, and researchers.
These companies’ efforts are as wide ranging and complex as the challenges brought on by Covid-19. They leverage expertise in biological engineering, mobile technology, data analytics, community engagement, and other fields MIT has long focused on.
The companies, a few of whom are featured here, are also at very different stages of deployment, but they are all driven by a desire to use science, engineering, and entrepreneurship to solve the world’s most pressing problems.
On Jan. 11, Chinese authorities shared the genetic sequence of Covid-19. Just two days later, members of a research team from Moderna Therapeutics, in collaboration with the National Institutes of Health, finalized the design of a vaccine they hope will prevent infection from the disease.
Moderna was founded by Institute Professor Robert Langer, who is also a faculty member at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Sciences (IMES), investor Noubar Afeyan PhD ’87, and researchers from Harvard Medical School in 2010. The company develops treatments that leverage specialized transporter molecules in cells known as messenger RNAs. Messenger RNAs bring instructions from genes to the cellular machinery that makes proteins. By creating specially modified mRNA, Moderna believes it can develop therapies to treat and prevent a number of diseases in humans.
Following its design of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, the company quickly moved to manufacture the mRNA vaccine for clinical trials. On March 16, just 65 days after Covid-19 was sequenced, Moderna began human trials, according to the company.
The first stage of the trials is expected to last six weeks and will focus on the safety of the vaccine as well as the immune response it provokes in participants. The company has said that while a commercially available vaccine is not likely to be available for at least 12-18 months, it is possible that under emergency use, a vaccine could be available to some people sooner.
On March 5, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals announced that its partnership with Vir Biotechnology, which focuses on treating infectious diseases, would extend to developing therapeutics for coronavirus infections, including Covid-19.
Alnylam was founded in 2002 by Institute Professor Phil Sharp, who is also a faculty member at the Institute for Medical Engineering and Sciences (IMES), Professor David Bartel, former MIT professor Paul Schimmel, MIT postdocs Tom Tuschl and Phil Zamore, and investors.
The company is already approved to treat patients with certain rare genetic diseases using its patented RNA interference technology. RNA interference, or RNAi, is a method of stopping the expression of specific genes through the manipulation of existing regulatory processes in the human body.
“[RNAi] technology is now strongly validated in a variety of ways and the promise of it is really remarkable,” says Sharp, who currently sits on Alnylam’s scientific advisory board with Bartel and Schimmel. “It’s the creation of a whole new therapeutic modality that I think we’ll be using 100 years from now.”
Under the terms of the extended collaboration, the companies will use Alnylam’s recent advances in delivering its RNAi technology to the lungs, in addition to Vir’s infectious disease capabilities, to identify and advance drug candidates.
Sharp says that even if the collaboration doesn’t lead to a treatment for the current Covid-19 outbreak, it holds tremendous potential for helping victims of infectious diseases down the line.
Dimagi, which provides a platform for creating mobile apps that can be used offline by cell phones of all types, recently began freely offering its mobile tool to organizations responding to the Covid-19 outbreak around the world.
The company’s platform is currently being used by hundreds of thousands of front-line health care workers globally. By enabling people with no coding experience to create mobile apps that work in environments with no cellular service, the company has transformed health care treatment for millions of people in low- and middle-income countries.
The company has already seen governments adopt its platform for Covid-19 response, including the Ogun state government of Nigeria, and it is also exploring use cases with officials from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in California.
The company was formed in 2002 when Jonathan Jackson’03 SM ’05 met co-founder Vikram Kumar, who was then a graduate research assistant in MIT’s Media Lab and on his way to earning his MD in the MIT-Harvard Division of Health Sciences and Technology.
Since then, Dimagi’s solutions have been used for a variety of large health care initiatives, including the Ebola crisis in West Africa, where the company worked directly with health organizations to give them mobile applications that helped provide critical care during their Ebola response.
Jackson believes Dimagi can help health care workers with tracking person-to-person contact, data collection, decision support, and spreading useful information. The company is also compiling a library of free, open-source templated Covid-19 mobile applications for quick deploymnent.
“Think of it as a free app store where health organizations working on the front lines can go, download their Covid-19 applications and quickly equip their health workforces with Covid-19 apps,” Jackson says.
Biobot Analytics, a startup that analyzes wastewater to gain insights into public health, has begun requesting sewage samples from wastewater treatment facilities across the U.S. to test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing Covid-19.
The company’s technology, developed by CEO Mariana Matus PhD ’18 during her time at MIT in partnership with Newsha Ghaeli, then a research fellow in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, has been geared toward estimating drug consumption in communities since its founding in 2017.
Biobot uses a proprietary device to gather representative samples of sewage, then ships those samples to its scientists for near-real time testing. Samples can be used to track opioid use, nutrition, environmental contaminants, antibiotic resistance, and the spread of infectious diseases. The resulting insights can be used to understand the health and well-being of small communities or large cities.
In the company’s Covid-19 testing program, which it launched pro bono in collaboration with researchers at MIT, Harvard, and Brigham and Women’s Hospital, the teams will process sewage samples from treatment facilities across the U.S., then use a laboratory technique known as a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction to determine the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
The collaborators believe the program could complement existing testing methods in addition to helping guide community reponses, measure the effectiveness of interventions, and provide an early warning for re-emergence of the outbreak.
“There is an incredible opportunity to use this technology to get ahead of and monitor the Covid-19 epidemic,” the company wrote in a recent Medium post announcing the program. “A wastewater epidemiology system that aggregates samples from wastewater treatment plants across the U.S. would provide a dynamic map of Covid-19 as it spreads to new places. [This will be a tracker for the outbreak complementary to individual testing]. Government officials, school administrators, and employers would no longer need to rely on confirmed cases or hospital reporting to make tough decisions like enforcing work from home policies.”
Soofa, a startup that creates solar-powered digital signs in public spaces, has begun offering its city partners templates to quickly post emergency announcements regarding Covid-19. In Massachusetts, the templates have been used in Brookline to post updates about school and playground closures, in Somerville to redirect people to the town’s coronavirus webpage, and in Everett, which has posted their updates in both English and Spanish to reach more people.
Soofa was founded in 2014 by Jutta Friedrichs and Sandra Richter, a former researcher in MIT’s Media Lab. The founders refer to their signs as “neighborhood news feeds” because they offer an easy, inclusive way for community members to view and post messages.
The company’s digital signage has also proven useful for its partners outside of government. Boston Architectural College, for example, now gives viewers instructions to attend their spring virtual open house.
Pathr is a startup that uses data analytics and machine learning to understand how people move through environments. The company, which has primarily used its technology to help retailers, casino operators, and owners of public spaces gain insights into customer behavior, recently launched a new product called SocialDistance.ai.
SocialDistance.ai will use Pathr’s “spatial intelligence” platform to give operators of large spaces information on how infectious diseases might spread in different scenarios.
SocialDistance.ai was formed when Pathr’s team got locked down in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the company is based, and began thinking about how their technology could help address disruptions related to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“There’s a spatial component to disease outbreak in general, and we’ve been hearing a lot about that with this coronavirus, so that was the spark, just thinking about what we could do to help,” says Pathr founder and CEO George Shaw SM ’11.
Shaw says his team has been in touch with officials who run malls, casinos, retail stores, and various public spaces to help them make more informed decisions about allowing people to use their spaces in the time periods surrounding an outbreak.
“Nobody who operates a big space wants to limit the number of people [in that space], so this would be a way to strike that balance, to get the right social distance, the right density of crowds; it could also help owners reconfigure a space so the flow of people is more conducive to social distancing,” Shaw says.
Shaw developed the spatial intelligence platform as a graduate student in the lab of Professor Deb Roy while working on a project in the Media Lab.
Who knew merely sitting at home could be so difficult? In times of quarantine lockdown and social distancing, we could all use some compelling distractions. Now that everything is on a lockdown, and rightly so, it is perhaps time to catch up on some essential viewing list. Thankfully, with the growing rise of online streaming platforms, one will seldom run out of options to watch. To help ease out the quarantine woes, here’s a quick list of platforms with amazing content for your liking.
1. Some spectacular regional gems & original content at YuppTV
As the global leader in South-Asian content, YuppTV packs a lot of surprises for users, especially the ones looking for quality entertainment in regional languages. Extremely popular amongst the Indian and South Asian diaspora community spread across the globe, YuppTV has an equally stunning line-up of original content starring some of the stalwarts from the South Indian film fraternity. Whether you wish to catch up on the shows that you missed, view some sporting action or watch popular movies and shows, there is a right mix for your every content need.
Recommendations: Endukila, Mana Mugguri Love Story
2. Netflix and chill!
No talk about online streaming platforms is complete without the mention of Netflix. Its library for original programming is just as fascinating as the collection of shows and movies available. From Thriller to Adventure, Rom-Com, Drama, Horror, Documentaries and more, there is a lot to be viewed on Netflix and just not enough time!
Recommendations: You, Sense8, Lucifer
3. Cummunity Commerce - Trell
Trell is India’s fastest-growing lifestyle-community-commerce platform. A mobile application that enables Indian users to share and discover personalized recommendations and product reviews across lifestyle interests such as- skincare & personal grooming, fashion, cooking, wellness, movie & web-show reviews, home decor, and travel. Trell is looking to penetrate deeper into new Tier 2, Tier 3 markets in India by adding content in ten regional languages by the end of 2020. .Trell has grown 20X in the last 12 months and has emerged as one of the biggest lifestyle platforms in India with over 15 Million downloads and 5 Million monthly active users on its app.
4. Entrepreneurs at Home
Shopmatic has been driving game-changing strategies in the eCommerce space and has engineered itself to stay focused on helping its customers succeed. With its recent acquisitions of CombineSell and Octopus, Shopmatic is driving an omnichannel play for individual entrepreneurs and businesses in emerging markets, by enabling the entire eCommerce-&-retail-management ecosystems for them to succeed. In this lockdown, it gives you an opportunity to take your business from offline to online in just 3 minutes and continue to make money.
5. Prime Videos may surprise you
Amazon has been constantly growing its content offering on Prime Videos through some strategic partnerships and of course, original content. Looking for popular movies and recent releases? Or would like to have a series grow on you? Prime Videos come bearing sweet surprises for you.
Recommendation: Made in Heaven, Man in the High Castle
6. What’s hot on Hotstar?
One of India’s very own online streaming platforms, Hotstar offers an intriguing mix of content for your viewing. There is, in fact, a lot to watch on the app, even if you would like to steer clear off the daily soaps. Catch up on the previous seasons of friendly banter amongst celebrities at Koffee with Karan or binge watch Doctor Who. There is something to be found for your very own preferences.
Recommendations: Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Chernobyl,
7. Shows and movies across different languages on Zee5
One of India’s popular online streaming app, Zee5 brings you a collection of popular TV shows, movies, and original content to pick from. Whether you wish to consume the daily soaps or watch some of the popular recent releases or book your date with an original series, Zee5 has some of the most intriguing solutions for you.
Recommendations: Laila Majnu, Dream Girl, Mentalhood
Most of these platforms also have a dedicated section for kids. The lockdown could be particularly challenging for the little ones. Thus, explore the kids section to keep the youngsters engaged and inspired. More importantly, stay home and stay safe!