What’s better than a holographic Tupac? Holograms of rappers who are actually still alive and can consent to their images being used, you bunch of mercenary ghouls.
The League Of Legends worlds in Paris on Sunday night opened with a massive pre-show, culminating in the super-dramatic unveiling of a championship trophy that makes the Triwizard Cup look like your chipped office mugs.
But the centrepiece of the stage show was the first live appearance from True Damage, Riot’s latest in-game supergroup, which features champions Akali (her second musical project in the game), Yasuo, Senna, Ekko, and Qiyana. Read more…
Stephen Colbert summed up another weekend in the Trump era on Monday Night’s Late Show, and it still isn’t getting any less weird.
Between the president officially leaving New York City (for tax reasons) and Titanic-groping a baseball player at the White House as thanks for donning a MAGA hat, it’s been an interesting few days. Then, of course, there’s the impeachment latest.
In the face of House Intelligence Committee Chair Rep. Adam Schiff releasing transcripts of the inquiry testimony, which the GOP had been decrying as “secretive,” Colbert explains that some Trump defenders are thinking they might switch to a new tactic: admitting that there may have been a quid pro quo, then just trying to downplay the negative spin. Read more…
HBO announced on Tuesday that their streaming service HBO Max will launch in May 2020 for $14.99 a month (existing HBO customers and HBO Now direct subscribers will get it bundled for free), as well as a feature it calls “human-powered discovery.”
“Talent & influencers will be the humans behind our Recommended by Humans feature, sharing the content they love and why it’s worth watching,” it announced in a tweet.
The service will also offer “co-viewing”, a joint profile that gives recommendations based upon joint views without interfering with personal profiles.
In addition, the company announced a Game of Thrones prequel as the crown jewel in their upcoming slate for HBO. Co-created by George R.R. Martin and Ryan Condal, the Targaryen prequel House of the Dragon will also be written by Condal, and both he and Miguel Sapochnik will act as showrunners. Read more…
You’ve probably already heard that HBO’s “Succession” (which recently completed its second season) is amazing. And as three East Coast tech reporters, we were probably the easiest targets for the show’s many charms.
Still, we felt like we had to talk about it. In fact, our “Succession” review on this episode of the Original Content podcast is perhaps our most epic discussion so far. And we probably would have gone for even longer, if we thought anyone would still be listening.
The series revolves around the Roy family, whose patriarch Logan Roy (played by Brian Cox) founded and still leads the Waystar Royco media empire. Throughout the course of the two seasons, his four children — heir apparent Kendall (Jeremy Strong), political fixer Shiv (Sarah Snook), snarky smart aleck Roman (Kieran Culkin) and libertarian weirdo Connor (Alan Ruck) — all take turns vying for their father’s attention and scheming against him.
All three of us loved “Succession,” but even without a long argument about the show’s merits, there was still plenty for us to debate: How a story with such morally bankrupt characters can still be so compelling, to what extend those characters are motivated by love versus hate versus greed (and whether they can even tell the difference) and who, in the end, deserves to sit on the corporate throne.
We also discuss next week’s launch of Disney+ and Apple TV+, and which shows we’re most excited about finally watching.
We all live in… a hell world that’s rapidly warming beyond compatibility with civilization and is also largely governed by micro-souled mooseknuckles! Fortunately, there are some nice things to distract us while we fail to reach for the emergency brake in this particular handbasket to hell, like the above video of Ringo Starr, The Roots, and Jimmy Fallon singing the sweet, damply utopian ditty “Yellow Submarine” accompanied by toy instruments.
From back-to-school supplies and pun Halloween costumes to pie-baking and drunk hayrides: Megan Thee Stallion’s teamed up with Jimmy Fallon to celebrate all the reasons leaf-peeping season is far, far superior to 2019’s warm weather mega-meme, Hot Girl Summer.
“Nothing makes me hotter than some temperate weather / Cause the summer was dope, but the fall’s even better,” Meg informs us, pulling her turtleneck way up over her face and rocking plaid thigh-high boots.
Speaking of, Tariq, aka The Roots’ Blackthought, also jumped in for a verse about how much he really, really loves plaid.
Just don’t try and masc up the name, Jimmy. Hot Girl Fall (aka Thotumn) is for everyone. Read more…
Most Star Wars fans are familiar with the famous A New Hope blooper where a random, nameless Stormtrooper doinked their head on a Death Star bulkhead. A true classic.
The identity of the clumsy Imperial soldier has been a mystery for as long as the movie has existed. And now, a new Jamie Stangroom documentary titled The Empire Strikes Door (omg), is poised to solve it.
This whole thing looks like a hoot, from the “Every generation has an idiot” tagline to the lineup of legitimate Star Wars celebrities who apparently lent their time to getting this thing made. I can’t wait to watch. It’ll be out Sept. 25 on Stangroom’s YouTube page. Read more…
, the once uber-popular movie subscription service, is shutting down. For real.
In a press release published on Friday and first noticed by , Helios and Matheson Analytics — MoviePass’ parent company — announced the shutdown of the service. Subscriptions will cease to work on Saturday.
“MoviePass notified its subscribers that it would be interrupting the MoviePass service for all its subscribers effective September 14, 2019, because its efforts to recapitalize MoviePass have not been successful to date,” says the . “The Company is unable to predict if or when the MoviePass service will continue.” Read more…
Look, nobody seems to really know what happened between Donald Trump and recently-former national security adviser John Bolton — not even the TV hosts who were getting texts from Bolton himself live on air, contradicting Trump’s tweets claiming Bolton was fired. But Seth Meyers does his best in Wednesday night’s A Closer Look segment.
After touching on Trump’s “scary stories” about refugees from Hurricane Dorian’s swathe of destruction in the Bahamas (“He should hold his rallies in the dark, holding a flashlight under his face — he’s like a racist Stephen King”), Meyers gets into the really terrifying stuff about John Bolton. Read more…
On Aug. 29, 1997, Skynet became self-aware. On Aug. 30, 2019, a new trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate became available. And as in the teaser released in May, it would very much like to emphasise that the Rise Of The Machines/Genisys/Salvation timeline is as dead as… well, all of humanity in the future.
If you’d like to be surprised, look away now, because this trailer is packed with details designed to reassure you that this is the Terminator franchise, classic flavour. We get Mackenzie Davis’s I-come-from-the-future exposition explaining that Sarah Connor did not, in fact, avert Judgement Day; Linda Hamilton’s Connor smirking and wisecracking like the apocalypse-averting veteran she is (complete with a callback I’d rather have been surprised by); and some absolutely wild-looking fight scenes — including a moment where Gabriel Luna’s evil new-model nanomorph appears to split itself into two separate humanoids. Read more…
Taylor Swift opened the 2019 VMAs with a performance of her single “You Need To Calm Down” — in which she famously, finally, Said Gay Rights. She picked up the Video For Good award for the clip, peppered with celebrities and icons of queer pop culture, but allowed her co-executive producer and BFF Todrick Hall to give that acceptance speech.
When she won the fan-voted Video Of The Year, however, she took the mic and proceeded to back up the video’s message, surrounded again by Hall as well as other members of the YNTCD cast such as Trinity the Tuck and Jade Jolie.
“In this video, several points were made, so you voting for the video means that you want a world where we’re all treated equally under the law, regardless of who we love, regardless of how we identify,” she said. Read more…
“You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy.” Those words, spoken by Obi-Wan Kenobi in Star Wars about Mos Eisley spaceport on Tatooine, have passed into legend. They heralded the arrival of arguably the movie’s most iconic moments, the scenes where it mutates into a Sergio Leone-loving Space Western. Few remember what Kenobi said next: “We must be cautious.”
And cautious is exactly what the Star Wars franchise has been since then, returning to the Mos Eisley template fewer times than you might think. Mos Espa, the Tatooine spaceport in The Phantom Menace, offered pratfalls and podracing rather than tense Western standoffsThe Force Awakens and Rogue One had their desert planet moments, but both focused on those planets’ stormtrooper occupations at the expense of the scum-and-villainy underbelly. The first Star Wars movie to go full Space Western, Solo, was also the first Star Wars movie not to make its budget back at the box office. Read more…
Get your therapist on speed dial, becauseIT Chapter Two is nearly here to retraumatise you with everything from a scary clown to how harrowing growing up is — and the first reactions are in as critics and fans stream out of the first screenings.
The overall mood is: IT Chapter One, but more. If you found yourself picking holes in the first movie, you’ll probably be frustrated again; if you loved the personal stakes and the characters, there’s that in spades here, with performances from the adult Losers to rival any “serious” drama; and the ending might make you cry.
And if it made you lose sleep, you can look forward to more of that too. Read more…
Ninja has beef with Twitch, the platform where he first found fame.
The superstar streamer whose real name is Richard Tyler Blevins now reps Microsoft’s competing Mixer, as of Aug. 1. But he left behind a community of 14.7 million followers on Twitch, and now he’s claiming Twitch is exploiting the community he built without his permission.
Blevins laid it all out in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday. He starts by explaining his new streaming situation on Mixer and describes what he says was a “smooth” transition off of Twitch. “Super professional, we haven’t said anything bad or negative about Twitch, obviously, because we haven’t needed to.” Read more…
“Years and Years” is an unusual show. It’s a co-production of HBO and the BBC, and in the course of six hourlong episodes, it covers a span of more than 10 years in our near future.
During that time, we see the rise of a terrifying Trump-style politician in the United Kingdom named Vivian Rook (played by Emma Thompson), along with lots more political, economic and technological upheaval. All of this is seen through the eyes of Manchester’s Lyons family — grandmother Muriel and adult siblings Rory, Edith, Daniel and Rosie, plus their spouses and children.
No one in the family is a major power player; they simply watch everything change with a growing sense of dread. That, in large part, is what makes the show effective — it feels true to the experience of trying to get on with your life while the world shifts around you.
On the latest episode of the Original Content podcast, we spend the entire hour reviewing the show. We had some reservations about the finale — which seemed to abandon the strengths of the previous episodes — but even so, we were impressed by the series, and by the way it brought so many of our fears to life.
The spectacle of Moulin Rouge! begins not with the opening number, but from the moment you walk into the glamorous, immersive theater decked out with a giant windmill on one side and a larger-than-life elephant on the other. Then, as you actually focus on what is on the stage, you’re greeted with seductive dancers strutting around in their burlesque best, making eyes at patrons as they find their seats and begin to even attempt to take in all the wonder around them.
Welcome to the Moulin Rouge.
This bombastic, enchanting and altogether magical Broadway musical, based on the Oscar-nominated 2001 film of the same name by Baz Lurhmann, is a love letter to love, most especially the all-consuming, desperate kind of love that songwriters have been trying to put into words over and over again for centuries. Read more…
Did you watch Stranger Things 3 over Fourth of July weekend? If so, you’re not alone.
According to Netflix, the new season was such a popular viewing pick that it actually broke the service’s four-day record, with 40.7 million “household accounts” tuning in. And 18.2 million of those, or about 44 percent, have already completed all eight episodes.
40.7 million household accounts have been watching the show since its July 4 global launch — more than any other film or series in its first four days. And 18.2 million have already finished the entire season.
This post contains spoilers for Season 3 of Stranger Things
Our tears have not even dried yet after the devastating revelation that our beloved Sheriff Hopper died sacrificing himself in the Stranger Things Season 3 finale.
But fans are already on the case with convincing theories about why he’s actually, probably, definitely still alive. The writers themselves even appear to have purposefully left that door open, with a conspicuous mention of an “American” prisoner at the Russian facility in the end credits scene.
But there are more subtle hints, too. And redditors are desperately scrounging for all of them to help us all remain in the denial phase of this grieving process. Read more…
In January, there was much excitement around comic book writer Sina Grace, his Iceman series for Marvel Comics, and his latest creation: Shade, Marvel’s first drag queen superhero.
Much has changed since thenIceman is apparently done after five issues, Shade is now called Darkveil, and, with his Marvel work seemingly concluded, Grace has quite a bit to say about how the comics publisher operates behind the scenes, specifically with regard to a creative product that caters to audiences outside the heteronormative “standard” (if there really is such a thing, or ever was).
A little background may be in order: In 2015, an All New X-Men comic revealed that Bobby Drake, the human behind the mutant superhero Iceman, is gay. Then, two years later in 2017, Grace kicked off a solo Iceman series that further explored Bobby’s identity. Read more…
Despite disappointing many longtime fans of the show, the “Game of Thrones” series finale set a new record for HBO as the most viewed episode in the network’s history. According to the Hollywood Reporter, the episode reached 13.6 million viewers during its initial airing on Sunday night, which rose to 19.3 million once replays and early streaming was included. The record was previously held for a short time by the season’s penultimate episode, which drew in 12.48 million viewers when first aired and a total of 18.4 million during its first night.
The eighth and last season of “Game of Thrones,” which premiered in 2011, averaged 44.2 million viewers through Sunday after streaming, on-demand, DVRs and replays were added in, or 10 million more than the season 7 average, said HBO .
The previous HBO series finale with the most viewers was “The Sopranos” with 11.9 million viewers, though that was in 2007, before streaming and other digital services took off.
The 2011 game comes to Nintendo Switch on May 10, and it’s the same ridiculously over-the-top story of superstardom, gang warfare, and government malfeasance you remember.
Or not? Even if we accept that time has actually flowed normally since early 2017 — a tall order when every day ages us all another 10 years, I know — it’s been a long time since Saints Row: The Third showed up. If you’re not familiar with the series, or just want to catch up, let’s talk about why it matters.
Finding the right footing
It’s always funny to think back on how Saints Row, the series, started as an opportunistic knock-off. Read more…
If you can see through your tears, the scenes for next week on Game of Thrones Season 8 Episode 4 is here. And it is all about the bloody aftermath that will seemingly follow the Long Night we just survived.
“We Have won the Great War,” Daenerys says. “Now we will win the Last War.”
Surprisingly, this strongman tactic appears to work on the ice cold northerns, who seem to finally be warming up to their new dragon king. Read more…
The world premiere of Avengers: Endgame took place on Monday evening, with critics and industry peeps getting a look at the much-hyped film before it hits cinemas.
Based on the first reactions on social media, the epic, three-hour long Endgame is a satisfying conclusion to a series which began 21 films ago, with most reviewers leaving positive comments about the film.
As Mashable’s Angie Han and Ali Foreman noted, Endgame is quite the send off.
#AvengerEndgame is an immensely satisfying payoff, not just to Infinity War but to all the films that came before. This is why the MCU. (And I say this as someone who was not especially enamored of Infinity War, FWIW.) ♥️💙💜
Douyu, a Chinese live streaming service focused on video games, has filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission as it prepares to raise up to $500 million on the NYSE less than a year after its archrival floated on the same stock market.
Wuhan-based Douyu, whose name translates as “fighting fish”, is the second Twitch -like service backed by Tencent to go public in the United States. Its direct competitor Huya, who has a similarly fierce name “tiger’s teeth” and also counts Tencent as a major investor, raised $180 million from its NYSE listing last May.
It’s not surprising for Tencent to hedge its bets in esports streaming, given the giant relies heavily on video games to make money. For example, Tencent can use some of its portfolio companies’ ad slots to get the word out about its new releases. Indeed, Douyu’s filing shows it received a hefty 27.48 million yuan ($4.09 million) in advertising fees from Tencent last year.
As Douyu warns in its prospectus, its alliance with Tencent can be tenuous.
“Tencent may devote resources or attention to the other companies it has an interest in, including our direct or indirect competitors. As a result, we may not fully realize the benefits we expect from the strategic cooperation with Tencent. Failure to realize the intended benefits from the strategic cooperation with Tencent, or potential restrictions on our collaboration with other parties, could materially and adversely affect our business and results of operations.”
But there are nuances in the giant’s ties to China’s top two live streaming services that could mean more affinity between Tencent and Douyu. The social media and gaming behemoth is currently Douyu’s largest shareholder with a 40.1 percent stake owned through its wholly-owned subsidiary Nectarine. Over at Huya, Tencent is the second-largest stakeholder behind YY, the pioneer in China’s live streaming sector that had spun off Huya.
When it comes to the financial terms, the rivaling pair is in a head-on race. In 2018, Douyu doubled its net revenues to $531.5 million. Huya held an edge as it earned $678.3 million in the same period, also doubling the amount from a year ago.
Huya may have learned a few things about monetizing live streaming from 14-year-old YY as it managed to pull in more revenues despite owning a smaller user base. While Douyu claimed 153.5 million monthly active users in the fourth quarter, Huya had 116.6 million.
How the two make money also diverge slightly. In the fourth quarter, 86 percent of Douyu’s revenues originated from virtual items that users tipped to their favorite streaming hosts, with the remaining earnings derived from advertising and more. By contrast, Huya relied almost exclusively on live streaming gifts, which made up 95.3 percent of total revenues.
Screenshot of a Douyu live streaming session
As Douyu grows its coffers to spend on content as well as technologies following the impending IPO, competition in China’s live streaming landscape is set to heat up. Just earlier this month, Huya raised $327 million in a secondary offering to invest in content and R&D. Like many other businesses anchored in content, Huya and Douyu depend tremendously on quality creators to keep users loyal. Both have offered sizable checks to live streaming hosts, promising to grow the internet celebrities into bigger stars.
And they’ve extended the battlefield outside China as emerging media forms, most exemplified by short video services Douyin (TikTok’s China version) and Kuaishou, threaten to steal people’s eyeball time away. Both bite-size video apps now enjoy a much bigger user base than their live streaming counterparts.
“We intend to further explore overseas markets to expand our user base through both organic expansion and selective investments,” noted Douyu in its IPO filing.
In a similar move, Huya’s overseas expansion is also well underway. “In addition to our vigorous domestic growth, we have successfully leveraged our unique business model to enter new overseas markets. We believe we are delivering long-term value through strategic investments in overseas markets in 2019 and beyond,” said Huya chief executive Rongjie Dong in the company’s Q4 earnings report.
Not since Mario’s nipples has the video game world been rocked this hard by a revelation about anatomy: Goombas have arms and hands!
The discovery of these appendages comes courtesy of photos of a Goomba keshi rubber figure (an eraser) shared to Twitter by user Joe Piconi, which shows the Goomba with his arms and hands folded behind his back, thus giving him the armless appearance.
Plunge your hands into a box and try to guess what’s inside it without looking. It’s a truly horrific concept for a game, one that’s generated plenty of fun times on The Tonight Show.
But Jimmy Fallon always gets pretty squeamish playing “Can You Feel It,” as do his guests. On Wednesday, the late night show host invited The Widow star Kate Beckinsale to play, and there was plenty of screaming (mainly on Fallon’s part).
“It’s sticky and wet. It’s a poo! It’s a huge poo!” Beckinsale said of some innocent cinnamon buns.
“I hate this game so much,” Fallon said, hesitantly putting his hands into earthworm-filled dirt. Read more…
But Jackman’s record isn’t the only title he’s tried for, as the star explained he and his brother clocked up many valiant attempts at Guinness glory — one of which is the most coins caught on one’s elbow. Read more…
It was a lengthy, almost two-year wait for the Mueller report to be delivered, and Stephen Colbert thought it was, well, anticlimactic.
In a monologue opening The Late Show on Monday, Colbert said the report’s findings, which found that there was no proof of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russia, was “worse than the finale of Lost.”
“What about the smoke monster, was it real or not? And if not, why have so many members of Trump’s campaign plead guilty to lying about meeting with the smoke monster?” Colbert quipped.
“Why couldn’t this have been like the ending of Seinfeld? Still disappointing, but at least they’re all in jail.” Read more…
Apple flexed its wallet today in a way Facebook has been scared to do. Tech giants make money by the billions, not the millions, which should give them an easy way to break into premium video distribution: buy some must-see content. That’s the strategy I’ve been advocating for Facebook but that Apple actually took to heart. Tim Cook wrote lines of zeros on some checks, and suddenly Steven Spielberg, JJ Abrams, Reese Witherspoon, Jennifer Aniston, and Oprah became the well-known faces of Apple TV+.
Facebook Watch has…MTV’s The Real World? The other Olsen sister? Re-runs of Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Actually, Facebook Watch is dominated by the kind of low-quality viral video memes the social network announced it would kick out of its News Feed for wasting people’s time.
And so while Apple TV+ at least has a solid base camp from which to make the uphill climb to compete with Netflix, Facebook Watch feels like it’s tripping over its own feet.
Spielberg is making short films out of the Amazing Stories anthology that inspired him as a child. Abrams is spinning a tale of a musician’s rise called Little Voice Witherspoon and Aniston star in The Morning Show about anchoring a news program. Oprah is bringing documentaries about workplace harassment and mental health. Apple even has the Seasame Street gang teaching kids how to code.
This tentpole tactic will see Apple try to draw users into a free trial of Apple TV+ with this must-see content and then convince them to stay. And a compelling, exclusive reason to watch is exactly what’s been missing from…Facebook Watch. Instead, it chose to fund a wide array of often unscripted reality and documentary shorts that never felt special or any better than what else was openly available on the Internet, let alone what you could get from a subscription. It now claims to have 75 million people Watching at least one minute per day, but it’s failed to spawn a zeitgeist moment. Even as Facebook has scrambled to add syndicated TV cult favorites like Firefly or soccer matches to free, ad-supported video service, it’s failed to sign on anything truly newsworthy.
That’s just not going to fly anymore. Tech has evolved past the days when media products could win just based on their design, theoretical virality, or the massive audiences they’re cross-promoted to. We’re anything but starved for things to watch or listen to. And if you want us to frequent one more app or sign up for one more subscription, you’ll need A-List talent that makes us take notice. Netflix has Stranger Things. HBO has Game Of Thrones. Amazon has the Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. Disney+ has…Marvel, Star Wars, and the princesses. And now Apple has the world’s top directors and actresses.
Video has become a battle of the rich. Apple didn’t pull any punches. Facebook will need to buy some new fighters if Watch is ever going to deserve a place in the ring.
It’s been a long time since superheroes could be dismissed as mere kid stuff, thanks to stories as intelligent as Black Panther or as disturbing as The Dark Knight or as gleefully inappropriate as Deadpool.
But lost in all the praise over how mature and thoughtful and boundary-pushing these films can be is the fact that, well, superheroes are kid stuff. Most of us first fell in love with these larger-than-life crusaders as children, over comic books or Saturday morning cartoons or family trips to the multiplex.
You know what, Julia Louis-Dreyfus could sell us anything.
But we’re not so sure how she is effective is at selling a lie, however, as exemplified when she stepped into a round of “Box of Lies” with The Tonight Show’s Jimmy Fallon on Thursday.
The Veep star is good fun, but boy, not so convincing when it comes to trying to dupe Fallon into thinking that she’s got a horse with a huge collection of sandals and high heels in front of her. Read more…
If you’re like me, who isn’t big on social media, you’d think that the image filters that come inside most apps will do the job. But for many others, especially the younger crowd, making their photos stand out is a huge deal.
The demand is big enough that PicsArt, a rival to filtering companies VSCO and Snapseed, recently hit 130 million monthly active users worldwide, roughly a year after it amassed 100 million MAUs. Like VSCO, PicsArt now offers video overlays though images are still its focus.
Nearly 80 percent of PicsArt’s users are under the age of 35 and those under 18 are driving most of its growth. The “Gen Z” (the generation after millennials) users aren’t obsessed with the next big, big thing. Rather, they pride themselves on having niche interests, be it K-pop, celebrities, anime, sci-fi or space science, topics that come in the form of filters, effects, stickers and GIFs in PicsArt’s content library.
“PicsArt is helping to drive a trend I call visual storytelling. There’s a generation of young people who communicate through memes, short-form videos, images and stickers, and they rarely use words,” Tammy Nam, who joined PicsArt as its chief operating officer in July, told TechCrunch in an interview.
PicsArt has so far raised $45 million, according to data collected by Crunchbase. It picked up $20 million from a Series B round in 2016 to grow its Asia focus and told TechCrunch that it’s “actively considering fundraising to fuel [its] rapid growth even more.”
PicsArt wants to help users stand out on social media, for instance, by virtually applying this rainbow makeup look on them. / Image: PicsArt via Weibo
The app doubles as a social platform, although the use case is much smaller compared to the size of Instagram, Facebook and other mainstream social media products. About 40 percent of PicsArt’s users post on the app, putting it in a unique position where it competes with the social media juggernauts on one hand, and serving as a platform-agnostic app to facilitate content creation for its rivals on the other.
What separates PicsArt from the giants, according to Nam, is that people who do share there tend to be content creators rather than passive consumers.
“On TikTok and Instagram, the majority of the people there are consumers. Almost 100 percent of the people on PicsArt are creating or editing something. For many users, coming on PicsArt is a built-in habit. They come in every week, and find the editing process Zen-like and peaceful.”
Trending in China
Most of PicsArt’s users live in the United States, but the app owes much of its recent success to China, its fastest growing market with more than 15 million MAUs. The regional growth, which has been 10-30 percent month-over-month recently, appears more remarkable when factoring in PicsArt’s zero user acquisition expense in a crowded market where pay-to-play is a norm for emerging startups.
“Many larger companies [in China] are spending a lot of money on advertising to gain market share. PicsArt has done zero paid marketing in China,” noted Nam.
Screenshot: TikTok-related stickers from PicsArt’s library
When people catch sight of an impressive image filtering effect online, many will inquire about the toolset behind it. Chinese users find out about the Armenian startup from photos and videos hashtagged #PicsArt, not different from how VSCO gets discovered from #vscocam on Instagram. It’s through such word of mouth that PicsArt broke into China, where users flocked to its Avengers-inspired disappearing superhero effect last May when the film was screening. China is now the company’s second largest market by revenue after the U.S.
Screenshot: PicsArts lets users easily apply the Avengers dispersion effect to their own photos
A hurdle that all media apps see in China is the country’s opaque guidelines on digital content. Companies in the business of disseminating information, from WeChat to TikTok, hire armies of content moderators to root out what the government deems inappropriate or illegal. PicsArt says it uses artificial intelligence to sterilize content and keeps a global moderator team that also keeps an eye on its China content.
Despite being headquartered in Silicon Valley, PicsArt has placed its research and development center in Armenia, home to founder Hovhannes Avoyan. This gives the startup access to much cheaper engineering talents in the country and neighboring Russia compared to what it can hire in the U.S. To date, 70 percent of the company’s 360 employees are working in engineering and product development (50 percent of whom are female), an investment it believes helps keep its creative tools up to date.
Most of PicsArt’s features are free to use, but the firm has also looked into getting paid. It rolled out a premium program last March that gives users more sophisticated functions and exclusive content. This segment has already leapfrogged advertising to be PicsArt’s largest revenue source, although in China, its budding market, paid subscriptions have been slow to come.
PicsArt lets users do all sorts of creative work, including virtually posing with their idol. / Image: PicsArt via Weibo
“In China, people don’t want to pay because they don’t believe in the products. But if they understand your value, they are willing to pay, for example, they pay a lot for mobile games,” said Jennifer Liu, PicsArt China’s country manager.
And Nam is positive that Chinese users will come to appreciate the app’s value. “In order for this new generation to create really differentiated content, become influencers, or be more relevant on social media, they have to do edit their content. It’s just a natural way for them to do that.”
Get ready for head-to-head battles during your commute, as Activision and Tencent delivered details and a trailer for Call of Duty: Mobile on Monday.
Call of Duty: Mobile will take the form of a standalone, free-to-play, first-person game brimming with maps like Nuketown and Crash, along with characters and weapons from the COD series, including Black Ops and Modern Warfare.
There’s no exact date for the game’s launch, but Activision and Tencent have announced that they’ll be releasing pre-launch beta versions of the game for folks who pre-register on the website and via Google Play. Once officially launched, the game will also be available on the iOS App Store too. Read more…
That’s right folks. The actor at the centre of Final Destination, a film released on March 16, 2000 and whose entire premise of cheating death hinges on a premonition about a plane, said he boarded a flight on the film’s anniversary which matched the flight number to the date. Read more…
The Luke Skywalker actor had a good laugh at everyone’s expense on Saturday when he tweeted a look at his very own trailer for Star Wars Episode IX. His very literal trailer that he hung out in when he wasn’t on set.
But there was one moment that the late show host had to talk about again: Trump’s admonishing of the people investigating him during his speech on Saturday.
And by talk, we mean totally mock the president with a new, weird impression that’s better if you just watch it (at 2:40). Colbert also tore into Trump’s press conference on Tuesday, where he answered questions about the investigations.
“It’s just so sad when his heart’s not in it, you know,” Colbert quipped. “He’s like an aging singer doing his 16th show of the week in Branson to a half-empty room.” Read more…
There’s a new Tyrant in town and his name is Thomas the Tank Engine.
The latest and greatest in the seemingly inevitable line of Thomas the Tank Engine mods for the Resident Evil 2 remake has arrived — and while its existence isn’t surprising, its application couldn’t be more perfect.
The collaborative mod, created by developers ZombieAli and DJ Pop, replaces the wildly terrifying Mr. X — an unkillable creature that chases you for portions of the game — with an equally horrifying and tyrant-sized Thomas the Tank Engine.
Complete with the Thomas & Friends theme song and some exceptionally menacing choo-choos, Mr. Thomas can bust through walls, catch fire, and stalk Claire and Leon to his heart’s content, just like his bumpy, hat-wearing predecessor. Read more…
Well, looks like some kind of apocalypse is here in the latest look at the forthcoming Hellboy film starring Stranger Things’ David Harbour.
Set to a cover of Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water,” the trailer offers up a pretty hectic look at the Dark Horse Comics-based film, with more than a few monsters for our pal to take care of.
Plus, there’s some kind of sexy blood shower, who knows?
Directed by Neil Marshall and starring Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane, Sasha Lane, Penelope Mitchell, and Daniel Dae Kim, the film sees our main dude Hellboy attempting to thwart a powerful fifth century sorceress (Jovovich) with plans to y’know, destroy humankind. Classic. Read more…
“Quite frankly, social media is the toilet of the internet. What it has done to pop culture is abysmal,” Gaga told the show (from 3:15).
“People saw love, and guess what, that’s what we wanted you to see. This is a love song, ‘Shallow.’ The movie, A Star Is Born, is a love story.”
Gaga added they both had worked on the performance all week, and Cooper as director made decisions like making sure the audience was lit throughout the song, among other details that helped with the illusion of love. Read more…
Spike Lee is also angry about Green Book winning Best Picture.
The BlacKkKlansman director was reported to have stood up and waved his hands in disgust during Sunday’s Oscars ceremony, when Julia Roberts announced Green Book as the winner of the night’s top prize.
Lee reportedly tried to leave, but was stopped, and eventually returned to his seat.
Spike Lee was visibly angry when “Green Book” was announced as the winner of best picture at the Oscars, waving his arms in disgust and appearing to try to storm out of the Dolby Theatre before he was stopped at the doors. He returned to his seat when the speeches were over.