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- 06/23/17--16:13: _The eSports competi...
- 06/27/17--08:11: _Netflix CEO's favor...
- 06/27/17--08:59: _Hollywood movie stu...
- 06/27/17--08:59: _Nobody wants to buy...
- 06/27/17--09:48: _An artist recreated...
- 06/27/17--10:55: _The first 'Harry Po...
- 06/27/17--11:21: _What it's like work...
- 06/27/17--12:02: _THEN AND NOW: What ...
- 06/28/17--06:01: _Nintendo's new $80 ...
- 06/28/17--06:09: _The 25 best songs o...
- 06/28/17--06:52: _Michelle Rodriguez ...
- 06/28/17--07:06: _Alec Baldwin will r...
- 06/28/17--07:25: _Cheap digital TV pa...
- 06/28/17--07:35: _Here's why season 6...
- 06/28/17--07:56: _16 actors you proba...
- 06/28/17--08:58: _A game developer ma...
- 06/28/17--10:37: _Apple is quietly ro...
- 06/28/17--14:16: _Jimmy Fallon pulled...
- 06/28/17--14:52: _'Pokémon Go' is gre...
- eSports is a still nascent industry filled with commercial opportunity.
- There are a variety of revenue streams that companies can tap into.
- The market is presently undervalued and has significant room to grow.
- The dynamism of this market distinguishes it from traditional sports.
- The audience is high-value and global, and its numbers are rising.
- Brands can prosper in eSports by following the appropriate game plan.
- Game publishers approach their Esport ecosystems in different ways.
- Successful esport games are comprised of the same basic ingredients.
- Digital streaming platforms are spearheading the popularity of eSports.
- Legacy media are investing into eSports, and seeing encouraging results.
- Traditional sports franchises have a clear opportunity to seize in eSports.
- Virtual and augmented reality firms also stand to benefit from eSports.
- The gaming nucleus of eSports, including an overview of popular esport genres and games; the influence of game publishers, and the spectrum of strategies they adopt toward their respective esport scenes; the role of eSports event producers and the tournaments they operate.
- The eSports audience profile, its size, global reach, and demographic, psychographic, and behavioral attributes; the underlying factors driving its growth; why they are an attractive target for brands and broadcasters; and the significant audience and commercial crossover with traditional sports.
- eSports media broadcasters, including digital avant-garde like Twitch and YouTube, newer digital entrants like Facebook and traditional media outlets like Turner’s TBS Network, ESPN, and Canal Plus; their strategies and successes in this space; and the virtual reality opportunity.
- eSports market economics, with a market sizing, growth forecasts, and regional analyses; an evaluation of the eSports spectacle and its revenue generators, some of which are idiosyncratic to this industry; strategic planning for brand marketers, with case studies; and an exploration of the infinite dynamism and immense potential of the eSports economy.
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- 06/28/17--06:09: The 25 best songs of 2017 so far, ranked
- It's only available to a small percentage of Apple Music users for now but it's rolling out to more people in the coming weeks.
- Whether or not you're on the iOS 11 beta shouldn't affect Chill Mix showing up for you.
- It updates every Sunday with a new playlist so you should add songs to your library if you like them.
- Your behavior in the Apple Music app helps Apple place songs on the playlist. Apple's algorithm takes into account things like your library, what you listen to, and which songs you've liked, as well as a little bit of human curation.
- It's not instantly clear what kind of music Apple considers "chill," but the playlist is designed to be something that you might want to throw on while you're relaxing. Many of the songs on my playlist are slower in tempo than what I usually listen to.
- My personal Chill Mix has rap, punk, and indie on it, so it's not restricted to certain genres — instead, it finds appropriate songs in the genres you like.
- You'll find it in the For You tab in the Apple Music app.
- 06/28/17--14:52: 'Pokémon Go' is great again, thanks to its sweeping new update
This is a preview of a research report from BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service. To learn more about BI Intelligence, click here.
What is eSports? History & Rise of Video Game Tournaments
Years ago, eSports was a community of video gamers who would gather at conventions to play Counter Strike, Call of Duty, or League of Legends.
These multiplayer video game competitions would determine League of Legends champions, the greatest shooters in Call of Duty, the cream of the crop of Street Fighter players, the elite Dota 2 competitors, and more.
But today, as the history of eSports continue to unfold, media giants such as ESPN and Turner are broadcasting eSports tournaments and competitions. And in 2014, Amazon acquired Twitch, the live streaming video platform that has been and continues to be the leader in online gaming broadcasts. And YouTube also wanted to jump on the live streaming gaming community with the creation of YouTube Gaming.
eSports Market Growth Booming
To put in perspective how big eSports is becoming, a Google search for "lol" does not produce "laughing out loud" as the top result. Instead, it points to League of Legends, one of the most popular competitive games in existence. The game has spawned a worldwide community called the League of Legends Championship Series, more commonly known as LCS or LOL eSports.
What started as friends gathering in each other's homes to host LAN parties and play into the night has become an official network of pro gaming tournaments and leagues with legitimate teams, some of which are even sponsored and have international reach. Organizations such as Denial, AHQ, and MLG have multiple eSports leagues.
And to really understand the scope of all this, consider that the prize pool for the latest Dota 2 tournament was more than $20 million.
Websites even exist for eSports live scores to let people track the competitions in real time if they are unable to watch. There are even fantasy eSports leagues similar to fantasy football, along with the large and growing scene of eSports betting and gambling.
So it's understandable why traditional media companies would want to capitalize on this growing trend just before it floods into the mainstream. Approximately 300 million people worldwide tune in to eSports today, and that number is growing rapidly. By 2020, that number will be closer to 500 million.
eSports Industry Analysis - The Future of the Competitive Gaming Market
Financial institutions are starting to take notice. Goldman Sachs valued eSports at $500 million in 2016 and expects the market will grow at 22% annually compounded over the next three years into a more than $1 billion opportunity.
And industry statistics are already backing this valuation and demonstrating the potential for massive earnings. To illustrate the market value, market growth, and potential earnings for eSports, consider Swedish media company Modern Times Group's $87 million acquisition of Turtle Entertainment, the holding company for ESL. YouTube has made its biggest eSports investment to date by signing a multiyear broadcasting deal with Faceit to stream the latter's Esports Championship Series. And the NBA will launch its own eSports league in 2018.
Of course, as with any growing phenomenon, the question becomes: How do advertisers capitalize? This is especially tricky for eSports because of its audience demographics, which is young, passionate, male-dominated, and digital-first. They live online and on social media, are avid ad-blockers, and don't watch traditional TV or respond to conventional advertising.
So what will the future of eSports look like? How high can it climb? Could it reach the mainstream popularity of baseball or football? How will advertisers be able to reach an audience that does its best to shield itself from advertising?
Robert Elder, research analyst for BI Intelligence, Business Insider's premium research service, has compiled an unparalleled report on the eSports ecosystem that dissects the growing market for competitive gaming. This comprehensive, industry-defining report contains more than 30 charts and figures that forecast audience growth, average revenue per user, and revenue growth.
Companies and organizations mentioned in the report include: NFL, NBA, English Premier League, La Liga, Bundesliga, NHL, Paris Saint-Germain, Ligue 1, Ligue de Football, Twitch, Amazon, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, ESPN, Electronic Arts, EA Sports, Valve, Riot Games, Activision Blizzard, ESL, Turtle Entertainment, Dreamhack, Modern Times Group, Turner Broadcasting, TBS Network, Vivendi, Canal Plus, Dailymotion, Disney, BAMTech, Intel, Coca Cola, Red Bull, HTC, Mikonet
Here are some eSports industry facts and statistics from the report:
In full, the report illuminates the business of eSports from four angles:
Interested in getting the full report? Here are two ways to access it:
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings loves his company's dark animated comedy “BoJack Horseman,” but Chinese censors appear less enthusiastic. The series has been pulled after only a few days of availability in the country.
While Netflix doesn’t operate in China, the streaming powerhouse signed a deal in April to license its content to iQiyi, China’s biggest streaming service. The deal was an important step for Netflix, which has struggled to crack the tricky Chinese market.
Last month at the Code conference, Hastings said Netflix had previously misjudged its chances of making Netflix work in China as a standalone entity, at least in the near term.
“We had our natural optimism that was slowly beat down,” he said. And when asked late last year about Netflix’s chances to enter China, he responded frankly: "It doesn't look good." Netflix needed a workaround.
That workaround was this deal with iQiyi, made in April, which was meant to bring Netflix’s original shows and movies into the country.
One of those titles was “BoJack Horseman,” which follows a has-been sitcom star (and half-horse), and satirizes Hollywood and celebrity worship. In 2015, Hastings told CNBC that "BoJack Horseman" was his favorite original series, beating out its classic hits like “Orange Is the New Black” and “House of Cards.” He even wore a BoJack sweater once on an earnings call.
But something in BoJack seems to have irked the censors when it began to show in China this month.
On Tuesday, Bloomberg reported that all three available episodes of “BoJack Horseman,” which began streaming on iQiyi just a few days ago, had been pulled. “Adjustments need to be made to the content," iQiyi said to Bloomberg.
While “BoJack Horseman” is edgy comedy, this news leaves an open question about how other Netflix originals will fare at the hands of Chinese censors. “Making a Murderer,” which fundamentally questions a governmental system, is still up, according to Bloomberg. And “Stranger Things” is coming soon.
Hollywood has long been suspicious that the box office receipts they receive from the movies they release in China have been underreported, and now they are taking action.
The Motion Picture Association of America, which represents the six major movie studios in the US, have hired an accounting firm to audit the box office sales of select titles that have been released in China, according to Bloomberg News.
The audit comes on the heels of ticket sales growth slowing last year to less than 3.7% in China after a 35% average growth the previous five years.
China is one of the fastest growing movie markets in the world and has been the savior of numerous big budget releases that flopped in the US, including recent releases like "The Mummy" and "Transformers: The Last Knight." So studios have recently been giving more attention to what returns they are getting out of the region.
And the studios have reason for concern.
In March, China’s State Administration of Press, Publication Radio, Film and Television penalized more than 300 theaters in March for under-reporting ticket sales, Bloomberg reports. The biggest penalties were 90-day suspensions for exhibitors that understated revenue by more than 1 million yuan ($146,000). And this is after China approved new fines for falsifying box-office sales in November. Some are five times the illegal gains.
The results of the audit may come as soon as the third quarter of this year, according to Bloomberg. That's ahead of the deadline for the US to renegotiate its film-trade deal with China. Under the current deal, US studios receive 25% of box office sales. The studios export the movies to the county on a flat fee.
A representative for the MPAA did not immediately respond to Business Insider's request for comment.
Grey Gardens has gone corporate. The home — perhaps one of the most infamous in the Hamptons — will be rented all summer by American Express, which plans to use it for special events, according to the New York Post.
The Michelin-starred restaurant Eleven Madison Park is said to be involved in the deal, but details, including the monthly rental price, are scarce.
Anyone who saw the "Grey Gardens" documentary or Broadway play would most likely balk at living in the home it was inspired by — it was in incredibly poor shape during the filming of the documentary, and it's even rumored to be haunted.
However, the East Hampton mansion now looks nothing like it did in the 1975 documentary, which showcased the lives of Jackie Kennedy Onassis' former socialite relatives.
The journalist and author Sally Quinn purchased the mansion with her husband, the Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee, for $220,000 in 1979. They rehabilitated it to its current splendor, according to The New York Times.
The home has the slate exterior typical of Hamptons homes.
Walk past the sizable porch ...
... and enter a home of stately beauty.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
The folks over at Lucasfilm are masters at creating anticipation for their films. Information leaks are few and far between, and trailers are even scarcer. This has left the denizens of the internet to scrounge for any new morsel of information about the galactic saga.
Luckily, Wahyu Ichwandardi has taken it upon himself to help ease the wait until the film hits theaters on December 16. The New York-based artist has recreated the most recent "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" trailer with a retro aesthetic.
Cita-cita waktu masih kecil di th 80an: bikin trailer Star Wars pakai komputer Apple bermonitor monochrome, baru kesampaian sekarang. pic.twitter.com/kUV28VB5pq— Pinot (@pinotski) June 26, 2017
Ichwandardi used an Apple IIc, which was released in 1984, along with a KoalaPad+. Check out the making-of below:
The "Harry Potter" franchise turned 20 years old in June. Author JK Rowling was 32 when the first book was published. A series of hit books and movies followed.
Warner Brothers then spent 10 years in Leavesden, UK, filming eight "Harry Potter" films.
The studios are massive and reveal how the movies were made using the most incredible special effects in the film industry.
Over the course of filming, five warehouses full of props were used. There was an Animal Department, a Creatures Department, a Visual and Special Effects Department, and more, which made each detail of JK Rowling's magical wizarding world come to life.
We visited the studios in England and learned the secrets. Here's how the producers did it.
The floating candles in the great hall were originally hundreds of real candles suspended by wires, which were digitally removed. But while the first movie was being filmed, there was a problem. The heat from the flames burned through the wires and caused candles to drop onto the tables. Afterward, all the floating candles were created digitally.
During the epic feast in "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," tons of desserts covered the tables in the Great Hall. While most of it was made from painted resin, some of it was edible and the cast got to indulge.
In Harry's Gryffindor dorm room, props changed from movie to movie. Producers lined bedside tables and walls with things the characters would be interested in, like sports posters and pennants. But the beds were never upgraded. By the time the final movies were filmed, Daniel Radcliff and the other boys had to curl up in balls to keep from hanging over the edge of the bed during shoots.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
With "Fargo" and "Legion," Noah Hawley has quickly become one of the most respected names in television. All three seasons of "Fargo" and the first season of "Legion" are incredibly artistic and have quite distinct looks, but all of that couldn't be achieved without help of visionaries behind-the-scenes.
Cinematographer Craig Wrobleski recently told Business Insider what it's like shooting a series like "Fargo" given its rich history, the inspiration for the visually-charged "Legion," and what it's like working as a cinematographer in television today.
This interview has been lightly edited for length and clarity.
Carrie Wittmer: The director of photography for “Fargo” was Roger Deakins, arguably the greatest cinematographer ever, and the Coen brothers are legendary filmmakers. Was it intimidating going into "Fargo" because of its place in cinematic history?
Wrobleski:I’m not sure if intimidation is the right word, but there was certainly the feeling of being handed a baton to carry on the legendary visual legacy that the Coen Brothers/Roger Deakins partnership has created over the years. I felt more honored and inspired than intimidated though — there was a certain amount of stress that came along with that. When I joined the "Fargo" team, it became abundantly clear that the series was holding itself to a very high standard and would be creating its own visual legacy to uphold. The goal, in my mind, was to rise to the level of the writing and performances and create images that told the story in the most effective and interesting way.
Wittmer: What’s it like on that set? "Fargo" has some of the greatest actors working today.
It’s like Christmas, really. On season three we had Ewan McGregor, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Carrie Coon, David Thewlis — it’s unbelievable, and I get to watch these performances every day. It’s incredible, really. Years ago, no one would ever think that someone like Ewan McGregor would do a TV show.
Wittmer: "Legion" is visually stunning, and has so many different stylistic elements. It also doesn't take place in any specified time period. What was some inspiration for "Legion?"
Wrobleski: The inspirations for "Legion" were numerous and varied. The production design of Michael Wylie was an inspiration in and of itself. The sets Michael and his team created were so visually dynamic that they informed and inspired our approach to the visuals for each episode. Stanley Kubrick’s structured frames and ability to create tension, suspense, and unease through his imagery was a key influence. I’ve always admired Kubrick’s films, and being offered the opportunity to echo elements of his style enabled me to check that off my cinematic bucket list.
The idea of the “uncanny” was a critical element of Noah’s concept for "Legion," and David Lynch is a master at creating those unsettling, uncanny images that really stay with the audience, so his work was a big influence as well. I’d have to say the biggest inspiration came from the scripts which were so dense and rich with powerful visual opportunities.
Wittmer: Shows like "Fargo" and "Legion" are just a few of the shows that take visuals seriously, including "Hannibal," "True Detective," and "Breaking Bad." Do you think television is now a place where cinematographers are choosing to go for a chance to be really be creative instead of film?
Wrobleski: It’s an incredible time to be working in television. With the feature film world being increasingly consumed with large tentpole films with 9-figure budgets, much of the strongest dramatic material has shifted to television. That migration has included writers, directors, cast and below-the-line talent including cinematographers.
Traditionally, feature films were expected to have higher production values and stronger performances than TV, but I believe much of the audience doesn’t differentiate between the two like they used to. When they turn their TV on, they expect quality entertainment, regardless of whether it is a feature film or a television series. This expectation of high production values from television, combined with the strong writing, is what excites me about the medium today. It’s a double-edged sword, as it can be very challenging to maintain that level of quality on a TV schedule and budget, but if you have the right team, as we did on Fargo and Legion, then everyone rises to the challenge and it is a very gratifying experience.
16 years have passed since Daniel Radcliffe appeared in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" with that lightning bolt-shaped scar on his forehead.
Since then, he's grown up, defeated Voldemort, and gone on to act in a bunch of other different movies.
The child actors in the "Harry Potter" movies have all transformed. Some of their acting careershave taken off after the series, and others are still trying to figure it out. There's no question though that the eight movies that came out between 2001 and 2011 have changed their lives forever.
Here's what the main child actors looked like when they were first introduced in the "Harry Potter" movie series, and what they look like now.
Daniel Radcliffe was just 11 years old when he started filming 2001's "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
Since finishing the series, he's had an eclectic career, playing everything from a morose doctor in "The Young Doctor's Notebook" to a flatulent corpse in "Swiss Army Man."
In the early "Harry Potter" movies, filmmakers gave Emma Watson Hermione Granger's famously "bushy" hair.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Nintendo has another hot new video-game console that everyone's going to want this holiday.
It's called the Super NES Classic Edition, it costs $80, and it's an adorably miniaturized version of the original Super Nintendo Entertainment System from 1991.
Rather than play your old SNES cartridges, the Super NES Classic Edition comes with 21 games packed in. It's an all-in-one game console, intended as both a fan service and a means of enabling younger game-players to try classics they may have missed. And at $80, it's a ridiculously easy purchase — as a gift for yourself, or for the family. It's priced to impulse-buy.
And it certainly doesn't hurt that the games on the Super NES Classic Edition are a murderers' row of hits.
If this scenario sounds familiar, that's because Nintendo rolled out an adorably miniaturized version of its Nintendo Entertainment System console in 2016. It was called the NES Classic Edition, it cost $60, and it was outrageously popular. It also had a gaggle of built-in games, including all three original "Super Mario Bros." games and a few dozen others.
The NES Classic Edition was so popular, in fact, that it was sold out everywhere during its brief production run.
Rather than continue producing it, Nintendo instead halted production — the NES Classic Edition was deemed a collector's item rather than an ongoing product.
History is repeating itself with the Super NES Classic Edition, but this time Nintendo is preparing potential buyers ahead of time. The Japanese game company provided this statement to Business Insider:
"Super NES Classic Edition is currently planned to ship from Sept. 29 until the end of calendar year 2017. At this time, we have nothing to announce regarding any possible shipments beyond this year."
While it's possible that Nintendo will continue producing the Super NES Classic Edition beyond 2017, it sounds unlikely right now. And that means you have a three-month window to get your hands on the console in a retail store — after that, you'll assuredly find units on eBay and elsewhere with astronomical markups in price.
Though the console will be available for a limited period, Nintendo is offering some reassurance that you'll be able to get one with relative ease: "We will produce significantly more units of Super NES Classic Edition than we did of NES Classic Edition."
There is no way to preorder the console yet, but it's planned for launch on September 29 and costs $80.
Packed with high-quality releases from some of the biggest names in the industry, the first half of 2017 has been a prolific period for new music.
From the songs of Kendrick Lamar's instant-classic album "DAMN.," to a few stellar singles from the R&B artist Frank Ocean, to numerous indie gems, the list of our favorite songs of the year turned out to be an eclectic one.
Check out the 25 best songs of 2017 so far:
25. Drake — "Passionfruit"
The hit single from his "playlist" album, "More Life," Drake's "Passionfruit" finds the Toronto rapper in the familiar confines of the catchy melancholia he's exhibited on previous hits like "Take Care" and "Hold On, We're Going Home."
24. The xx - "Say Something Loving"
On "Say Something Loving," the English indie-rock trio The xx adds a newfound, welcomed vibrancy to their minimalist production for a compelling song about the "thrill of affection."
23. Lorde - "Green Light" (Chromeo Remix)
Stripping away the bulk of the melodramatic baggage from Lorde's "Melodrama" single "Green Light," the Canadian duo Chromeo builds a fresh, electro-funk track around Lorde's cryptic lyrics about love and nightlife.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
Actress Michelle Rodriguez has appeared as Letty Ortiz in five of the eight "Fast and Furious" films since the franchise started in 2001. Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, and Jason Statham have all had starring roles in the franchise while the women, including Rodriguez, Jordana Brewster, Gal Gadot, and Nathalie Emmanuel, have usually taken a backseat.
In an Instagram post on Tuesday, Rodriguez expressed her frustration with the limited roles women have in the franchise.
"'F8' is out digitally today," she wrote. "I hope they decide to show some love to the women of the franchise on the next one. Or I just might have to say goodbye to a loved franchise."
Charlize Theron had a major role in "The Fate of the Furious" as the primary villain and Helen Mirren had a small role, which could mean the franchise is taking its female cast seriously moving forward.
Alec Baldwin will bring his acclaimed, ratings-boosting impression of President Donald Trump back to "Saturday Night Live" for the show's 43rd season, at least in some capacity.
Baldwin's return looks like it will be more of a limited engagement than it was in the previous season, according to CNN.
"Yeah, we're going to fit that in," Baldwin told CNN on Monday. "I think people have enjoyed it."
The 59-year-old actor told the outlet that his busy schedule will mean "SNL" fans will be treated to a "couple celery sticks" instead of a "whole meal" of his Trump impression.
Baldwin played Trump throughout the show's 42nd season. In March, he suggested that he may give up the impression for the next season.
Watch Baldwin's Trump on "SNL":
Since internet-TV packages began to pop up in earnest last year, a question has hung in the air: Are they cannibals?
These streaming-TV packages function much like traditional satellite or cable ones, except they generally have fewer channels, more flexibility to cancel, and are delivered over the internet.
The companies that offer these services — AT&T, Dish, YouTube, and so on — have usually described these streaming-TV services as built for people that don’t currently subscribe to a pay-TV service (“cord-cutters,” or “cord-nevers”).
That's one market, sure. But the outstanding question has been whether these packages will hurt their traditional counterparts, sometimes offered by the same company, by cannibalizing their customers.
In short: Will people who have a $100-a-month DirecTV package right now trade it down for something smaller and digital?
In a new report from UBS analysts led by John Hodulik on Tuesday, the answer seems to be “yes.”
UBS said the “availability of cheap live streaming alternatives” is contributing to more people canceling traditional packages (“elevated traditional video churn”). The analysts also said it's hurting the ability of pay-TV companies to charge high rates (their “pricing power”). If you are a pay-TV operator, especially one that doesn't own one of the upstarts, that's bad news for you.
UBS said the trend will be evident when the full second-quarter numbers come out, especially given the launch of two significant streaming TV services: YouTube TV and Hulu with Live TV.
UBS expects historically brutal subscriber losses for traditional TV this quarter, with the market losing 1.2 million subscribers, widening from both 795,000 last quarter, and 821,000 in the quarter a year ago.
“This would be the worst traditional video result on record, equate to a 2.5% annual decline in traditional subs (vs. -2.1% last quarter) and put the industry on pace for a 3.4% decline for the year (vs. -1.5% in 2016),” UBS wrote. As I said, brutal.
Here’s a chart of what UBS expects for the traditional TV industry over the next few years:
It's been a while since we last got to see our favorite (and least favorite) characters in Westeros. The upcoming seventh season of "Game of Thrones" is probably the most anticipated season yet, due to its later-than-usual premiere date in July and the explosive season six finale preceding it.
With every season of "Game of Thrones," the stakes get higher and higher as we inch closer to finding out the fate of the coveted Iron Throne. Among fans, a Rotten Tomatoes survey conducted for Business Insider said that season six is the fan favorite, but it's also the least-loved season among critics.
The show got better when it wasn't confined to being a strict adaptation of the lengthy book series. And while some storylines in season six were adapted from the books, the story had more focus — it brought characters together instead of drifting them apart, and it had some of the best action sequences that television has ever seen, rivaling even big action films.
Here's why season six of "Game of Thrones" is the best season so far:
The story is more accelerated than other seasons
Things moved a bit slowly in early seasons, mostly for Daenerys and Bran and his friends — leaving Bran out of season five was one of the best moves the writers have made. Things also moved incredibly slow for the ever-impending Winter, which took six whole seasons to actually arrive.
Remember how Daenerys spent most of season two hanging out in Qarth? Remember how much time we spent watching Daenerys figure out what to do about Meereen? Three seasons. Of course, Daenerys needed her time in Slaver’s Bay to prepare for ruling Westeros, but her time there got a little dull and irrelevant to the series as a whole until Varys and Tyrion arrived to speed things up.
In the first few seasons of the series, there was a lot of traveling. We did get to know these characters along the way, and some characters got to know each other through their adventures on the road (Brienne and Jaime, Jorah and Tyrion, for example), but now we don't need to see the journey — just the destination.
Season six also has a narrowed focus
This is only natural for a show in its final two seasons, and it's the best time for it to happen. TV shows that add unnecessary story arcs and too many new characters in their final hours usually don't end well.
As the characters in this world get closer to each other and the show nears its endgame, the story has more focus. No more side stories that ultimately lead nowhere, no more time for romance: Ygritte is dead, Shae is dead, and Daenerys said goodbye to Daario Naharis for political reasons, which also translate to story reasons.
To narrow the focus, the show has also done what it does best: kill people. With Ramsay Bolton gone, Cersei is the primary villain, and Euron Greyjoy a close second.
At this point in the show, the only side story that really exists is Sam and Gilly at the Citadel. But Sam has stuck around all this time for a reason, and his presence at the Citadel will definitely pay off in some way.
Thematically, season six works better as a larger, more cohesive story
Season five also follows a similar pattern. Though earlier seasons were well-written, episodes lacked an overall arc, which can cause them to feel more like a series of scenes stitched together. There was rarely a common thread, especially with Daenerys so far away from what was happening in Westeros.
In season six, the episodes (and season as a whole) are more thematic and bleed into each other more naturally.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider
When it comes to "Harry Potter," everybody knows the film's leading trifecta: Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson.
But what about the dozens of other witches, wizards, and muggles who graced the screen throughout the series? While you were watching Harry and his friends fight dragons and hunt horcruxes, these performances from veteran actors and youngsters just beginning their careers might have totally passed you by.
From cameo appearances from the cast of "Dancing with the Stars" to a member of the band Radiohead, here are 16 actors you might have missed in "Harry Potter":
Alfred Enoch has come a long way since his days playing Dean Thomas in "Harry Potter." Today, you can spot him as law student Wes Gibbins on "How to Get Away with Murder."
Scarlett Byrne kept company with fellow Slytherin Draco Malfoy as the sour Pansy Parkinson. Since then, she's starred in a different magical world as Nora Hildegard on "The Vampire Diaries," and can now be seen playing Lacey on "Mary + Jane."
Verne Troyer was the first of two actors to play Griphook the goblin in "Harry Potter," but you probably recognize him from his most famous role as Mini-Me in "Austin Powers."
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More than just a bizarre name, "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" is a brilliant concept. It's no surprise that the game — which still hasn't officially launched — has already racked up over $100 million in revenue. This is a game that's exclusively available on PC and isn't even finished with development, yet it's already being played by over 4 million people.
There's a simple explanation for why it's doing so well: It's an unbelievably good game.
Here's how the average match of "PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds" goes:
You're jammed in a crappy plane with 100 other people, flying above an abandoned ex-Soviet island. You can jump whenever you want, knowing that as you plummet to the ground, 99 other people are plotting your imminent death. Of course, you're plotting theirs as well, just as soon as you can get your hands on a weapon.
Thankfully, though the island is uninhabited aside from you and the enemy players, the island — including all its houses, hospitals, and gas stations — are packed with P9s, AKs, and plenty of body armor.
As you scramble to put together a small arsenal and supplies for survival, you're also contending with the other 99 people doing the same thing. Sometimes those folks want to fight, and sometimes they're unarmed and just as terrified of you as you are of them. Every interaction with another player in "Battlegrounds" is a gamble.
So, where in the world did this game come from?
It was created by a studio in South Korea named Bluehole, and its creative director is an Irish man named Brendan Greene (AKA "PlayerUnknown"). Though Bluehole was already an established game developer, most famous for having created a successful MMO called "Tera," the company has found sudden outrageous success with "Battlegrounds." For a game that's not even complete yet, to have already racked up over 4 million copies sold is extremely rare — more akin to the explosive success of something like "Minecraft" than standard game launches.
Given that sudden, extreme success, I wondered how Greene and co. were handling things. Were they partying non-stop? Taking lavish vacations? Buying gold toilets? Outbidding Jay Z and Beyoncé for luxurious LA abodes?
"No, f--- that. I'm a simple man, and I'm happy when I have internet and a nice bottle of wine," the game's creative director Brendan Greene told me in an interview at the annual video game trade show, E3, in mid-June. "I have five pairs of the same Bermudas. I have a Converse problem, but they're my guilty vices. I don't want a fancy car. A nice house would be good."
So, no Ferraris then. Instead, Greene is focusing on setting up his daughter for life. "For me, personally, I have a daughter. I do this for her. I don't want to spoil her, but she'll never need to worry," he said.
Unbelievably, Greene doesn't seem to be freaking out at all with the sudden infusion of cash. He's a friendly, charismatic gentleman. He speaks excitedly about the game he's making, and is seemingly trying to avoid confronting its potential as a behemoth. Though the game has only been available since March, it's already sold over 4 million copies — it's still in "Early Access," which means it's not complete. Bluehole is planning a "1.0" version for later this year, and an Xbox One version of the game by year's end.
All of which is to say one thing: "Battlegrounds" is, if anything, just getting started. It's entirely possible that Greene is just at the start of a wild roller coaster ride. But he's staying cool.
"Apart from a few more smiles around the office, the focus is on making a good game," he told me. "That hasn't changed. Sure, we've been super successful, but it hasn't really affected me or the team that much." The focus, he said, is on making the game as good as possible. "I have a goal in mind for Battle Royale as a game mode, and 'Battlegrounds' as a game, and — until we get there — I'm not celebrating just yet. This could all be gone in a second, as is the way with the internet. We want to finish it, and get it done, then we'll relax for a bit."
Apple Music subscribers may soon notice an unfamiliar playlist called "Chill Mix" pop up in their music libraries.
It's not a mistake — Apple is actually quietly rolling out a new automatically-generated, custom playlist that will update on Sundays.
It's Apple's third Spotify Discover-style playlist, following My Favorites, which is generated out of songs Apple knows you like, and My New Music, which is composed of new songs Apple thinks you'll like.
Here's what you need to know:
Here's what the playlist looks like on my device. It's comprised of 25 songs that add up to 69 minutes:
Stephen Colbert has been beating Jimmy Fallon in late-night show ratings for the past five months — until last week.
"The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" finally managed to surpass "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" by 34,000 viewers last week, according to The Hollywood Reporter. These are Fallon's highest ratings since he filmed a series of episodes in Orlando that aired in April to celebrate the opening of his new ride at the Universal Orlando Resort.
It's still a close race — a margin of 34,000 viewers isn't much, especially considering the fact that Colbert aired reruns while shooting in Russia last Thursday and Friday, and Colbert's video on demand (VOD) & DVR views have yet to be added up (which could potentially push Colbert's overall weekly ratings past Fallon's).
But while Fallon's momentary resurgence may be due to the absence of his chief competition, his small spike in viewership does raise the question of whether or not some viewers have moved on, or rather returned, after Fallon's infamous tousling of President Trump's hair.
Fallon’s viewership started to decrease five months ago, shortly after Trump’s inauguration. Fallon's softball interview and on-air Trump hair tousle was widely criticized by liberals, who argued it humanized Trump in the midst of his presidential campaign and helped him win the 2016 election.
Although there doesn't appear to be any concrete data that shows the political leanings of “The Tonight Show” audience, the late night genre as a whole seems to have a more liberal slant than ever these days, with Trump serving as the butt of most monologue jokes. Variety recently posted findings from a study, conducted at the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University, that tallied up the number of Trump jokes delivered by late night hosts during Trump's first 100 days in office. Colbert told the most Trump jokes (337 total), while Fallon lagged behind in third place with 231 Trump jokes.
According to Business Insider's findings, late night hosts with sharp liberal skewed political critiques, such as Stephen Colbert (Fallon's top competition), Samantha Bee, and Bill Maher have all seen sizeable increases in their viewership since President Trump has been in office. But while some late night hosts have made their political leanings more obvious than others, Fallon has remained fairly apolitical.
While some viewers may have sought out more politically-charged humor in the wake of the election, Fallon's middle-of-the-road demeanor could win out in the end — or at least until Colbert gets back on another hot streak.
Last week, "Pokémon Go" got a huge new update, bringing sweeping and long-awaited changes to the game's multiplayer battles.
These changes are just in time: As "Pokémon Go" approaches its one-year anniversary, the early mega-hype over the game has all but faded. Make no mistake, there are still 65 million active players, including myself, but the game has gone stale for many — even the very first "Pokémon Go" master has quit the game for lack of new worlds to conquer.
Fortunately for all, these new updates are exactly what the doctor ordered. While I never stopped playing casually, the update has me out in the streets again in my quest to catch 'em all.
After a year of same-old same-old multiplayer, the new update truly makes "Pokémon Go" great again — and sets the stage for even more exciting things to come.
The old way
The basics of "Pokémon Go" haven't changed. Players explore the real world in search of Pokémon, which can appear anywhere. Along the way, players will find Pokéstops, which dispense helpful items when you walk near their locations, and gyms, which are guarded from attack by other players' most powerful Pokémon in a variation on king-of-the-hill.
The problem with the original setup is that it got old, quickly. Players quickly figured out that only a few Pokémon — most commonly Dragonite, a rare dragon-type — actually had the stats necessary to guard a gym from attackers for any length of time.
And so, players raced to swell their collections with mega-powerful specimens of those few Pokémon, with many opting to cheat to get the biggest, baddest monsters.
The net result: Players were forced to grind against the same handful of souped-up Pokémon, over and over again, just to make a dent in the gym. And even if they were somehow victorious, those same hardcore players would unseat you pretty much instantly. It rapidly became apparent that it wasn't worth it, so many players didn't bother.
The new hotness
Niantic, the developer of "Pokémon Go," took its time rolling out these updates, but it's obvious that they were well-considered.
With this update, Pokémon placed at gyms lose "motivation," and thus combat power, the longer they're placed at a gym. If motivation hits zero, the Pokémon is automatically kicked out. Motivation can be restored by feeding berries to each Pokémon at the gym in regular intervals.
This neatly solves one big problem — if the lineup at a gym is too intimidating for a player, simply wait, and it'll be easier. Plus, any Pokémon over 3000 CP, or "combat power," lose motivation super quickly, meaning they're more likely to vanish, barring organized enemy action in keeping them well-fed. Oh, and you can only have one of each type of Pokémon at a gym at any one time, which further increases the variety in defending lineups.
The icing on the cake: Niantic is cracking down on cheaters, making a more concerted effort to keep them from ruining everybody else's fun.
That's a very good start. But wait, there's more.
It's a raid
What's really cool are the new addition of "Raid battles." From morning until around sunset, certain gyms will play host to a massive, mega-powerful Pokémon. You and up to 19 other players can team up to take it down. A successful Raid will net you otherwise-unobtainable items and a chance to catch a version of the Pokémon you just took down.
Better still is that certain Pokémon, otherwise unloved in the game, are actually found to be amazing at Raids. It's just another way that Niantic is thinking through how to increase variety in the game.
Down the line, this Raid system feels like the logical way to distribute "legendary" Pokémon, the rarest of the rare — forcing 20 players to work together just to catch a Mewtwo or Articuno sounds like my idea of a good time.
"Pokémon Go" has always been at its best when it encourages real-world camaraderie between players, and this is a positive step in that direction.
All of these neat little tweaks add up to a reason to play more "Pokémon Go." Now, I have a shot at defending a gym, whether or not I have the most powerful of the powerful Pokémon, which I don't. And by teaming up with other players, I can take down powerful bosses, which also gives me a better chance to catch 'em all.
There are lots of little, niggling things that I wish they would fix. The new system, for instance, is still a nightmare outside of urban areas like San Francisco, where I live. Too few gyms means that it's still trivially easy for a handful of players to take one over with their most powerful monsters.
But more than ever, it feels like the first step into something bigger, as Niantic takes the template that we've had for a year and really builds on it. Those legendaries are an obvious place to start; there's room for so much more.
Ultimately, all I know is my partner and I have ran out of the house at least once to complete a Raid. That's something that we haven't done with "Pokémon Go" since it first came out. If Niantic's goal is to reinvigorate the fires under its most dedicated players, and reel new ones in, this is a very encouraging sign.