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Google cloud to power state-of-art SoFi stadium

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Google on Friday announced it has a multi-year deal to provide its cloud services to SoFi Stadium and the Hollywood Park campus.

Google hopes these sorts of sports deals will help it gain traction against Amazon and Microsoft. In March, Google agreed to a partnership with Major League Baseball to operate its stat-tracking system, Statcast, and provide digital infrastructure for everything from team websites to online ticket sales. But, it still lags far behind Amazon and Microsoft, with about a 4% share of the market according to Gartner.

Google’s cloud services will help power all of the data passing through the state-of-the-art SoFi stadium and will provide a new personal concierge app that offers real-time metrics on gameday. Some of those metrics will appear on the new 360-foot 4K Oculus scoreboard, the largest scoreboard in professional sports.

“The big impact that people are going to see when they go to SoFi Stadium is the Oculus,” Anil Jain, Google Cloud’s managing director, media and entertainment, told CNBC in an interview on Thursday. 

Jain said some of the “conceptual ideas” center around augmented reality as Google wants to help reimagine in-venue attractions as Covid-19 has “accelerated” virtual experiences. Augmented reality allows devices, such as phones and tablets, to overlay digital content on top of the real world that a user can see while looking at the screen.

Jain hopes Google can provide exclusive video replays to fans and other supplementary experiences. “These are all things that come together in that future reinvention or re-imagination of the fan experience,” he said.

The $5 billion complex, developed by Rams owner Stan Kroenke, is set to open Sunday when the team hosts the Dallas Cowboys.

“We couldn’t have picked a better partner to manage our technology needs,” Skarpi Hedinsson, chief technology officer, SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park, said in a statement. “Incorporating Google’s solutions into critical areas of our business ensures we can usher in a new era of innovation in sports and entertainment, raising the bar on what the ultimate fan experience looks like globally.”

Google Cloud headquarters sits in Sunnyvale, California.

Google Cloud

The partnership will extend beyond NFL games played in the stadium. The complex will host massive sporting events starting with the 2022 Super Bowl, the college football national championship in 2023, and the Summer Olympics in 2028.

“Our goal is to continue to be an innovator in the space and partner with broadcasters, sports leagues and the broader ecosystem to help drive innovation but put it to the strengths that we’re investing in – cloud computing, data analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and more,” Jain said.

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TikTok owner ByteDance launches mobile payments in China

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A symbol of TikTok (Douyin) is pictured at The Place shopping mall at dusk on August 22, 2020 in Beijing, China.

VCG | Visual China Group | Getty Images

GUANGZHOU, China — ByteDance has launched a new payment service within Douyin, the Chinese version of short-video sharing app TikTok.

Douyin users can choose Douyin Pay to make purchases within the short-video app. Creators usually sell items or merchandise related to their content.

“The set-up of Douyin Pay … is to supplement the existing major payment options, and to ultimately enhance user experience on Douyin,” ByteDance said in a statement. ByteDance owns both Douyin and TikTok.

Indeed, Douyin already offers payment options from Alibaba affiliate Ant Group’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay, the two dominant mobile payment apps in China.

Together, Alipay and WeChat Pay account for more than 90% of the mobile payments market in China, according to iResearch.

Both payment services are available within apps but also at physical stores where customers can scan barcodes to purchase items. This is different to Douyin Pay which will just be available within the Douyin app.

Douyin’s payment system is operated by Wuhan Hezhong Yibao Technology, a company ByteDance purchased around two years ago. Users will need a Chinese bank account to use Douyin Pay.

The latest push into both e-commerce and financial technology, or fintech, highlights ByteDance’s desire to expand beyond social networking. This has included forays into mobile gaming, a search engine and music streaming.


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Netflix and Disney trading places: Upstart vs old guard

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The Queen’s Gambit on Netflix and Disney’s Mickey Mouse

Netflix; CNBC

Disney and Netflix pride themselves on storytelling. Now they’ve switched places when it comes to the tales they’re telling Wall Street.

Netflix said on Tuesday that it would consider buying back shares for the first time since 2011. After nearly a decade of borrowing $15 billion to fund original content, Netflix said Tuesday it planned to be cash flow positive after 2021 and would no longer need outside financing for its operations.

Disney, meanwhile, temporarily halted its dividend last year and has heard calls from activist investor Dan Loeb to permanently end its annual $3 billion payment to shareholders. Loeb wanted Disney to funnel that money into original content, using Netflix’s startling run-up from $11 billion company to $220 billion media giant as a model.

While Disney hasn’t ended its dividend yet, the company is focusing its operations around streaming. Disney plans to roll out dozens of Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar movies and series in the coming years for its flagship streaming service, Disney+. The service has gained more than 86 million subscribers in a year, way ahead of Disney’s original expectations, and the company now expects between 230 million and 260 million subscribers by 2024.

“It’s super impressive what Disney has done,” Netflix co-CEO and co-founder Reed Hastings said during Netflix’s earnings conference call. “It’s incredible execution for an incumbent to pivot to take on the insurgent. It shows members are willing and interested to pay for more content because they’re hungry for great stories. And Disney does have great stories.”

But while Hastings still refers to Disney as the incumbent, investors see a different picture. There’s a reason why Disney shares gained more than 2% after hours on Netflix’s news, which sent Netflix shares up more than 12%. Investors don’t see the battle as Disney versus Netflix. They see that Disney wants to be like Netflix, and there’s room for both.

Netflix was founded in 1997. Disney has been around for nearly 100 years.

But in the streaming video world, Netflix is the incumbent and Disney the upstart.

The student has become the teacher.

WATCH: Netflix: We’ll be cash-flow neutral this year, positive every year after


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YouTube extends Trump suspension for another week

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Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube.

Michael Newberg | CNBC

YouTube is extending Donald Trump’s channel suspension for a week longer than its previous temporary suspension.

The Google-owned company confirmed to CNBC the extension Tuesday, citing a potential for ongoing violence. Donald Trump’s YouTube account has 2.79 million subscribers and, prior to the suspension, typically posted several videos a day from him and from right-wing media stations.

The company is also going to continue banning comments from showing on videos posted within his channel. The temporary suspension means Trump’s account and existing videos will remain accessible but he won’t be able to upload new content for a minimum of seven more days.

Last week, Google suspended President Trump’s YouTube account and formally warned the White House about its use of the world’s largest video platform after the deadly violence at the U.S. Capitol by some Trump supporters in early January. The company normally has a three-strike rule and the first strike results in a temporary account suspension.

The extension comes ahead of Inauguration Day, where the U.S. will transition power to the next president, Joe Biden. 

The company has historically taken a more hands-off approach to moderating content on its platform, which faced renewed criticism following the 2020 election. By the time YouTube gave Trump its first strike, Twitter and Facebook had already banned Trump indefinitely, citing incitement to violence.


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