Архив метки: Sensor Tower

MoviePass announces new pricing plans for 2019

It’s been a rocky year for MoviePass, something that CEO Mitch Lowe acknowledged in an interview this week with Variety.
“We have a lot to prove to all our constituents,” Lowe said. “We don’t just have to prove ourselves to our members, we also have to prove ourselves to the investment community, our employees, and our partners. We believe we’re doing everything that we possibly can to deliver a great service and we’re in the process of fixing all the things that went wrong.”
To that end, the company is launching a new pricing structure that will take effect in January. If you like paying $9.95, don’t worry: You’ll still be able to do that (at least in some geographies). If, on the other hand, you’re willing to pay a little more, you’ll no longer be limited by the ever-changing list of movies that MoviePass is supporting on a given day.
So there are now three tiers, each of them offering three movie tickets each month. There’s Select, which will cost between $9.95 and $14.95 per month (depending on geography), and will only allow viewers to watch certain movies on certain days; All Access, which costs between $14.95 and $19.95 and allows you to go to any standard screening; and Red Carpet, which costs between $19.95 and $24.95 and includes one IMAX, 3D or other large-format screening each month.
The company says that this new structure will allow it to break even on the tickets it’s selling — a key step to making the business model work.
MoviePass fans will likely remember that the company appeared to be running out of money over the summer, leading it to announce a price increase, only to back away from the price hike in favor of adding limitations on how many movies and which movies subscribers could see.
Meanwhile, the New York attorney general’s office said it was investigating MoviePass for possible securities fraud, and parent company Helios and Matheson said it would spin off MoviePass into a separate company. (TechCrunch’s parent company has a stake in MoviePass.)
The competition is growing. And app store intelligence company Sensor Tower says MoviePass only added 12,000 new users to its mobile app last month, down 97 percent from the growth it was seeing at its high point in January.
In addition to rethinking its pricing, MoviePass is also making organizational changes. The company told The New York Times that although Lowe will remain CEO, he’ll be handing over responsibility for day-to-day operations to Executive Vice President Khalid Itum.

MoviePass parent company to spin off MoviePass

MoviePass announces new pricing plans for 2019

Facebook Lasso app lead Brady Voss leaves for Netflix right after launch

Facebook Lasso has a steep uphill climb ahead as it hopes to chase the musical video app it cloned, China’s TikTok (which merged with Musically). Lasso lets you overlay popular songs on 15-second clips of you lip syncing, dancing or just being silly — kind of like Vine with a soundtrack. It’s off to a slow start since launching Friday, having failed to reach the overall app download charts as it falls from No. 169 to No. 217 on the U.S. iOS Photo and Video App chart, according to App Annie. Sensor Tower estimates Lasso has been downloaded fewer than 10,000 times across both iOS and Android.
Forme Facebook Lead Product Designer Brady Voss
And now one of the Lasso team’s bosses, Brady Voss, is leaving Facebook for a job at Netflix. He’d spent five years as a lead product designer at Facebook working on standalone apps like Hello and major feature launches like Watch, Live, 360 video and the social network’s smart TV app. He previously designed products for TiVo and Microsoft’s Xbox.
“After five life-changing years at Facebook, my last day will be this Friday, 11/16,” Voss wrote on Facebook. “Following our launch of our new app, Lasso, a project I’ve been working on for a while now, the timing works well to explore what’s coming next…. As for what’s next? I have accepted a position at Netflix in Los Gatos, California.” A Facebook spokesperson responded that “Yes, I can confirm that Brady is leaving Facebook.”
Voss added some color about joining Facebook, noting, “There was actually a discussion about whether or not I’d be a great culture fit because I wore a tie to my interviews–which is funny because we don’t believe dressing like that is what enables people to bring their best everyday. Thankfully, they saw past the common clichés–because suits and ties are not me.” As for Facebook’s troubles, he wrote that “I was even there for the big freak out moments along the way–we’ll keep them unnamed ”, which could refer to his work on Facebook Live that spawned big problems with real-time broadcasts of violence and self-harm.

While it’s reasonable for anyone to want a change of pace after five years, especially after the brutal year Facebook’s had in the press, his departure just a week after Lasso’s launch doesn’t inspire a ton of confidence in the app’s trajectory. It might have been a sensible stopping point haven gotten the app out the door, but you’d also think that if Lasso had a real shot at popularity, he’d have wanted to stick around to oversee that growth.
Lasso’s first rodeo
TechCrunch first broke the news last month that Lasso was in development, citing Voss as one of the team’s heads. But in the meantime, the world’s highest valued private startup ByteDance managed to push its TikTok app past Instagram, Snapchat and YouTube on the download charts. It’s now at No. 5 on the U.S. iOS overall charts and No. 1 in Photo and Video. Facebook seems to have shooed Lasso out a little prematurely before losing more ground, given it lacks many of the augmented reality features and filters found in Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok .
Facebook Lasso
TechCrunch asked the company for some more details about the Lasso roadmap. A spokesperson told me that Facebook will be evolving Lasso and adding new features with time, and may test a feature for uploading videos instead of being restricted to shooting them in-app right now. Voss’ departure post includes a “Made With Lasso” video featuring an augmented reality effect with him conjuring Facebook Like thumbs-ups out of his hand. [Update: He tells me he added this in AfterEffects, but it shows that Facebookers think AR should be part of Lasso.]
As for monetization, Facebook tells me there are no plans to show ads right now. Typically, Facebook tries to build products to have hundreds of millions of users before it potentially endangers growth by layering in revenue generators. I asked if users might be able to pay their favorite video creators with tips, and the company says that while that’s not currently available, it hopes to explore ways to allow creators to earn money in the future. Instagram said the same thing about IGTV when it launched in June, and we still haven’t heard anything on that front. Facebook likely won’t be able to lure creators to new platforms with smaller audiences than their main channels unless it’s going to let them earn money there.
If Facebook is truly serious about challenging TikTok, it may need to build closer ties between Lasso and Instagram. Facebook left its previous standalone video apps like Slingshot and Poke out to dry, eventually shuttering them after providing little cross-promotion. Given the teen audience Lasso craves is already on Instagram, it will be fascinating to see if former VP of News Feed Adam Mosseri, who’s now running Instagram, will insert some links to Lasso. A Facebook spokesperson says that Facebook may investigate promoting Lasso on its other apps down the line.
And one final concern regarding Lasso is that Facebook isn’t doing much to prevent underage kids below 13 from getting on the app. Tweens flocked to Musically, leading to some worrisome content. Ten-year-old girls in revealing clothing singing along to the scandalous lyrics of pop songs frequently populated the Musically leaderboard. That prompted me to question Musically CEO Alex Zhu onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt London 2015 about whether his app violated the Child Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) that prohibits online services from collecting photos or videos of kids under 13. He denied wrongdoing with flimsy excuses, claiming parents were always aware of what kids were doing, and stormed out of the backstage area after our talk.

Facebook launches Lasso, its music and video TikTok clone

So I asked Facebook how it would prevent such issues on Lasso, where all content is public and adults can follow children. A spokesperson told me that you need a Facebook or Instagram account to sign up for Lasso, and those services require people to be 13 older. But “require” isn’t exactly the right word. It asks people to state they’re of age, but doesn’t do anything to confirm that. Lasso does have a report button for flagging inappropriate content, and the company claims to be taking privacy and safety seriously.
But if the tech giants are going to build apps purposefully designed for young audiences, asking for kids to merely promise they’re old enough to join may not be sufficient.

Facebook Lasso app lead Brady Voss leaves for Netflix right after launch

6 million users had installed third-party Twitter clients

Twitter tried to downplay the impact deactivating its legacy APIs would have on its community and the third-party Twitter clients preferred by many power users by saying that “less than 1%” of Twitter developers were using these old APIs. Twitter is correct in its characterization of the size of this developer base, but it’s overlooking millions of third-party app users in the process. According to data from Sensor Tower, six million App Store and Google Play users installed the top five third-party Twitter clients between January 2014 and July 2018.
Over the past year, these top third-party apps were downloaded 500,000 times.
This data is largely free of reinstalls, the firm also said.
The top third-party Twitter apps users installed over the past three-and-a-half years have included: Twitterrific, Echofon, TweetCaster, Tweetbot and Ubersocial.
Of course, some portion of those users may have since switched to Twitter’s native app for iOS or Android, or they may run both a third-party app and Twitter’s own app in parallel.
Even if only some of these six million users remain, they represent a small, vocal and — in some cases, prominent — user base. It’s one that is very upset right now, too. And for a company that just posted a loss of one million users during its last earnings, it seems odd that Twitter would not figure out a way to accommodate this crowd, or even bring them on board its new API platform to make money from them.
Twitter, apparently, was weighing data and facts, not user sentiment and public perception, when it made this decision. But some things have more value than numbers on a spreadsheet. They are part of a company’s history and culture. Of course, Twitter has every right to blow all that up and move on, but that doesn’t make it the right decision.
To be fair, Twitter is not lying when it says this is a small group. The third-party user base is tiny compared with Twitter’s native app user base. During the same time that six million people were downloading third-party apps, the official Twitter app was installed a whopping 560 million times across iOS and Android. That puts the third-party apps’ share of installs at about 1.1 percent of the total.
That user base may have been shrinking over the years, too. During the past year, while the top third-party apps were installed half a million times, Twitter’s app was installed 117 million times. This made third-party apps’ share only about 0.4 percent of downloads, giving the official app a 99 percent market share.
But third-party app developers and the apps’ users are power users. Zealots, even. Evangelists.
Twitter itself credited them with pioneering “product features we all know and love,” like the mute option, pull-to-refresh and more. That means the apps’ continued existence brings more value to Twitter’s service than numbers alone can show.

Image credit: iMore
They are part of Twitter’s history. You can even credit one of the apps for Twitter’s logo! Initially, Twitter only had a typeset version of its name. Then Twitterrific came along and introduced a bird for its logo. Twitter soon followed.
Twitterrific was also the first to use the word “tweet,” which is now standard Twitter lingo. (The company used “twitter-ing.” Can you imagine?)

These third-party apps also play a role in retaining users who struggle with the new user experience Twitter has adopted — its algorithmic timeline. Instead, the apps offer a chronological view of tweets, as some continue to prefer.
Twitter’s decision to cripple these developers’ apps is shameful.
It shows a lack of respect for Twitter’s history, its power user base, its culture of innovation and its very own nature as a platform, not a destination.
P.S.:
twitterrific

6 million users had installed third-party Twitter clients

HQ Trivia downloads spiral downward as it hits Apple TV

HQ Trivia’s app store ranking has continued to sink the past three months, but it’s hoping a new version on your television could revitalize growth. HQ today launched an Apple TV app that lets users play the twice-daily live quiz game alongside iOS Android players. “Everything about the game is still the same – same questions, same time, same rules,” says a spokesperson, except you’ll play with the Apple TV remote instead of your phone’s screen. But that might not be enough to get HQ’s player count rapidly growing again.

According to App Annie’s app store ranking history, on iOS HQ has fallen from the No. 1 U.S. trivia game to No. 10, from the No. 44 game to No. 196, and from the No. 151 overall app to No. 585. It’s exhibited a similar decline on Android. Analytics firm Sensor Tower estimates HQ has seen 12.5 million lifetime installs by unique users, with about 68 percent on iOS. “Installs have been on the decline. For last month, we estimate them with about 560K, which is down from their height of more than two million per month back in February,” Sensor Tower’s head of mobile insights Randy Nelson tells TechCrunch.
 

The question is whether this is just a summer lull as people spend time outside and students aren’t locked in the schedule of school, or if HQ is in a downward spiral beyond seasonal fluctuations. But if we zoom out, you can see that HQ has been dropping down the charts through the school year since peaking in January. At one point it climbed as high as the No. 3 game and No. 6 overall app. The app’s record high of concurrent players has also declined from a peak of 2.38 million in late March.

[Update: The CEO of HQ Trivia parent company Intermedia Labs and the former co-founder of Vine, Rus Yusupov, weighed in on the decline in downloads and HQ’s plans. He says, “Games are a hits business and don’t grow exponentially forever,” signalling the drop-off was expected and the team is still optimistic. But he also notes that HQ is “developing new game formats, one of which we think is really special and complements Trivia nicely”, indicating that HQ will branch out beyond its 12-question everyone vs everyone approach.]

Games are a hits business and don’t grow exponentially forever. HQ has massive early traction and still millions playing daily. Also developing new game formats, one of which we think is really special and complements Trivia nicely. More soon! Until then thanks for playing https://t.co/wnAcztBuJU
— Rus (@rus) August 14, 2018

Meanwhile, new clones keep popping up. After the initial wave of Chinese live trivia apps, now U.S. television studios are getting into the mix. This week Fox unveiled FN Genius, which looks and works almost exactly the same as HQ. One of HQ’s long-time rivals, Trivia Crack, where users play asynchronously over the course of days, also declined earlier this year, but has bucked HQ’s trend and started rising on the App Store charts again. There are also new 1-on-1 trivia games like ProveIt that let players bet real money on whether they can outsmart their opponent.
Fox’s FN Genius. Image via Deadline
With themed games, celebrity hosts, big jackpots like a recent $400,000 prize and new features like the ability to see friends’ answers, HQ has tried to keep its app novel. But it’s also encountered cheaters and people playing with multiple phones that make normal players feel like they’ll never win. While the live aspect adds urgency, it also can feel interruptive with time as users aren’t always available for its noon and 6pm Pacific games. HQ may need to launch a second game app, come up with some new viral hooks or find ways to revive lapsed players if it’s going to make good on the $15 million its parent company raised in March.

12 questions about the future of HQ trivia and its $15M fundraise

 

HQ Trivia downloads spiral downward as it hits Apple TV

Musical.ly’s shutdown of Live.ly was contractually obligated

Musical.ly has begun redirecting users of its Live.ly app, which it decided to kill off last month, to a competing app called LiveMe. Existing Live.ly users are being pointed to LiveMe through an in-app message, it says. While it’s a fairly common industry practice for companies to direct users to similar apps or services when a product of theirs is being sunsetted, in this case, Musical.ly’s decision to close down Live.ly and send users to LiveMe was actually a contractually obligated part of Musical.ly’s nearly $1 billion acquisition by Chinese technology company Bytedance last year.
A clause in Bytedance’s agreement to acquire Musical.ly stated that, if the deal went through, Musical.ly would have to close Live.ly within six months, according to a source with knowledge of the deal.
The agreement also said that Live.ly would have to point users to LiveMe for at least 30 days following its closure, we learned, when verifying the information.

The issue at hand was a competing investment – right around the time of the Musical.ly acquisition, Bytedance had also put $50 million into the live-streaming app LiveMe. Apparently, it didn’t want to operate two rival properties.
Clearly, this request was not a deal-breaker for Musical.ly – in fact, it’s integrating Live.ly’s feature set into its own app. That means it will still be something of a competitor to LiveMe, though now no longer a direct one. Musical.ly’s main app, after all, is not known today for its live streaming, but rather for lip syncing videos that are recorded and edited using the app’s included visual effects and editing tools.
In addition, Live.ly had not been able to attract the viewership numbers that Musical.ly had. The company said, when confirming Live.ly’s closure last month, the majority of live stream views were taking place in Musical.ly itself, not in its spinoff.
That said, Live.ly had a fair number of users. Though nowhere near as big as Musical.ly’s 200+ million registered users or 60 million actives, its live stream app had 26 million installs, around 70 percent in the U.S., according to Sensor Tower’s data.
But LiveMe is bigger – it has more than 60 million users and has paid out over $30 million to its broadcasters through its direct virtual gifting program, the company claims.
LiveMe is also not the only app operated by the company. Other LiveMe portfolio apps include the social short video app Cheez, and mobile gaming and esports live streaming app Fluxr. To date, it has raised a total of $110 million.

Live.ly isn’t only redirecting users to LiveMe, however. In its own announcement about the news today, it shows a screenshot that’s pointing Live.ly users to Twitter’s Periscope, for instance. The message also notes that the Live.ly domain name is for sale, and provides an email for sales inquiries.
Musical.ly hasn’t yet responded to a request for comment.

Musical.ly’s shutdown of Live.ly was contractually obligated