Ypulse Essentials: Xbox Is The Future Of TV, Google+'s 17%, Sony's Pre-Release Digital Downloads

Xbox Live Microsoft is billing its upgrade of the Xbox Live platform (as the “future of TV.” The new user interface comes with a wealth of content from video partners, including 26 live channels from Verizon Fios, thousands of On Demand options from Comcast, apps for networks like Syfy, an improved Netflix app, and a new YouTube app. Oh, and there’s also cloud storage for a better video experience, as well as to enable users to access their media on any Xbox they sign into. The Xbox is looking less and less like a gaming device, and more like a media server on steroids. The update officially rolls out to users tomorrow. Here’s a walk through showing the interface and improved voice controls. This system is definitely built with Millennials in mind. Of course, Apple is also planning to revolutionize the home screen with iTV. There’s not doubt that Apple wins having iTunes vs. Microsoft’s Zune, but Xbox has an advantage with 56 million Xboxes out there already. Who do you think will win the war?) (VentureBeat) (The Verge) (Advance TV)

- Here’s an infographic about Google+ users (but the most interesting stat by far is that a mere 17% of those with accounts on the site are active users. Time for a new catch phrase: We are the 83%... In other social media news, Facebook has reportedly acquired Gowalla, a social check-in site similar to Foursquare, which means it may have plans to make its Places Deals revolution a reality) (PR Daily) (Telegraph)

- Hailee Steinfeld may not have landed the role of Katniss in ‘Hunger Games’ (but she’s won another coveted role in Hollywood: that of Petra Arkanian in the film adaptation of “Ender’s Game,” the story of future children being groomed to lead Earth’s army in an epic interstellar battle. Elsewhere in movie news, Sony has announced it will be making another…

 
 

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“I don't spend money, really on anything. I enjoy video games and will enjoy getting video games, but I receive as gifts from grandparents, parents”—Female, 14, IA

Airbnb is booming in Africa, where young travelers are “looking for culture rather than comfort.” Over two million people have used Airbnb in Africa to book vacation accommodations in the last five years, reportedly earning African hosts $139 million in just the past year. Wanderlusting Millennials are pushing themselves out of their comfort zones to discover new places, rather than retread old ground, and locales like Africa are getting a boost because of it. (Quartz)

Nielsen says they finally have a way to measure Netflix viewership—but Netflix says they’re way off base. Nielsen claims they can keep track of all viewing on the platform, including originals, “whether or not a studio or network wants them to.” Netflix claims, “The data that Nielsen is reporting is not accurate, not even close, and does not reflect the viewing of these shows on Netflix.” Ouch. Regardless, Nielsen’s move is a step in the right direction to measure what The Post-TV Genis watching, and has “direct implications for the ad business.” (MediaPostAdAgeFortune)

Influencers are using Instagram’s new polling feature, beating brands to the punch. Influencer network Blog Lovin’ found that 66% of their followers (many of which are influencers) had already used polling, while 87% plan to in the future. Polling is not only an opportunity to engage with customers but a way for brands to “[ask] for feedback about products, creat[e] engagement around topics that are in the media and [conduct] market research.” But brands have been slow to ask influencers to use the new story feature for promotions or to utilize the feature on their standalone accounts. (Glossy)

High school students are increasingly taking college courses—but little is known about whether it will benefit them. Thanks to dual-enrollment programs, which are expanding rapidly, students can get a head start on college credits, cutting down on the cost of higher education. Some also argue that Advanced Placement courses are more rigorous, and worthier of students’ extra effort. However, the impacts of programs on “a diverse set of students” is not yet known. (WSJ)

Kids have online influencers too, and they’re pushing branded toys to devoted viewers. Unboxing videos on YouTube are not a new phenomenon, but kid stars unboxing toys are getting brands’ attention as a way to leverage The Influencer Effect. MGA Entertainment, the world’s largest private toy company, pivoted 90% of their ad spend to digital in 2014 and report the strategy is paying off. Studies show children’s attention is switching from cable to YouTube, and influencers help brands reach a “much more engaged smaller audience” and give them “that potential for virality.” (Bloomberg)

"I love coffee and love the experience of having someone make me a nice latte. I like being around other people and hanging out in restaurants or cafes.”—Female, 20, PA

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