Overwatch League Names Toyota as Launch Partner



Blizzard Entertainment announced that a major new brand-marketing partner has signed on to support the Overwatch league during its inaugural season: multinational automative manufacturer Toyota. This partnership marks the first time Toyota has partnered with an esports league.

The Overwatch League is further supported by sponsors HP and Intel, with players competing on cutting-edge gaming hardware including HP’s OMEN gaming PCs, powered by the latest Intel Core i7 processors.

“We’re thrilled to welcome Toyota to the Overwatch League,” said Pete Vlastelica, president and CEO of Blizzard Entertainment’s MLG division. “When we were building the league, our desire was to create a premium experience for players and fans, and partners like Toyota are helping us do just that.”

As part of the partnership, Toyota and the Overwatch League plan to develop an exclusive series called Access Granted that will present behind-the-scenes content to the community, centered around the unique journey of the esports athlete.

The series, produced by Blizzard Entertainment’s MLG division, will air featured clips in live matches that promote the series. The featured clips will include players driving Toyota vehicles to and from the competition at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles, where all regular-season games of Overwatch League will take place.

“Toyota is excited to be a launch partner of the Overwatch League,” said Steven Curtis, Vice President, media & engagement marketing for Toyota Motor North America.” We love the passion of esports fans, and the goal of our partnership is to help take the Overwatch League and the fan experience to the next level.”

The Toyota C-HR will have on-site presence at Blizzard Arena Los Angeles and media placements surrounding Overwatch League.


Facebook is ESL’s Main Broadcasting Platform



ESL, the world’s largest esports company announced that it will bring content from two of the top esports competitions exclusively to Facebook in 2018. Facebook will be their main broadcast partner.

WESA, the World Esports Association, along with ESL, announced that the world’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive competition, CS:GO Pro League, will be broadcast exclusively on Facebook, kicking off with the upcoming Season Seven. Distribution will begin on February 13, 2018, and will run for four seasons of Pro League, through December 2019.

ESL will also broadcast one of its flagship circuits, ESL One on Facebook, featuring Dota 2 and CS:GO. The first event this year will be ESL One Genting 2018, taking place January 23-28, 2018, bringing 16 of the world’s best Dota 2 teams to Malaysia for a six day event. Additionally, ESL will produce and broadcast a weekly five-minute show celebrating the Dota community on Facebook Watch, Facebook’s platform for shows.

Competitions will be streamed exclusively via Facebook Live in English and Portuguese, with other languages available as well. All live broadcasts from CS:GO Pro League and ESL One will be available in 1080p/60fps on Facebook. Both Pro League and ESL One will also be streamed in VR.

ESL will also leverage Facebook’s innovative cross-posting feature. With cross-posting, ESL can easily post videos and reach audiences on all participating team and player Pages. The feature will work with live and 360 video, and it will be available soon for videos that were previously live.

Although Facebook users will have the easiest time finding and following the action within the platform, it is not required to have a Facebook account to watch Pro League or ESL One. Embedded streams will continue to be shown on the respective product pages.


Amazon Raised the Price of Prime Monthly Memberships



Amazon announced that it has raised the price of its monthly memberships. This change went into affect on January 19, 2018, for those who create an Amazon Prime membership after that date. For current Amazon Prime members, the monthly price will increase when your membership period ends.

The monthly membership fees for Amazon Prime and Prime Student changed on January 19, 2018. The new price change depends on the type of monthly membership. The Prime membership for new members has increased from $10.99 to $12.99. The Prime membership for the discounted Prime Student monthly plan for new sign-ups increased from $5.49 to $6.49.

If you already have a Prime account, or a Prime Student account, and want to continue making monthly payments, your membership price will change. The new price will take effect either at the end of your free trial, or at the end of your chosen membership period. At that time, your card will automatically be charged for the next membership period.

Prime Video membership is staying at $8.99 a month.

Amazon points out that if you don’t happen to like the new change to price of the monthly plan, you could choose to be charged on an annual basis instead. Annual memberships for Prime are $99. Annual Memberships for Prime Student are $49. I figure that people who wanted an annual payment would have picked that option instead of the monthly one.

Amazon has a special Prime membership for people who are eligible for government assistance programs. The price of this type of Amazon membership is $5.99 a month. Amazon is not raising that price.


Pokémon GO Will Discontinue Support for Some Apple Devices



Pokemon Go logoPokémon GO announced an upcoming update that could potentially affect your ability to continue playing Pokémon GO. Players are warned that Pokémon GO will discontinue support for Apple devices that are not capable of upgrading to iOS 11.

This change is a result of improvements to Pokémon GO that push the application beyond the capabilities of the operating systems on such devices. This change will take effect on 02/28/2018. After that date, Trainers using affected devices may no longer be able to access their Pokémon GO accounts from that device, or use their PokéCoins or other items in their Bags.

If the Apple device you play Pokémon GO on is affected by this change, and you want to keep playing the game, you will need to switch to a device that can upgrade to iOS 11.

Pokémon GO has more specific information about devices that it will discontinue supporting. They include:

  • iPhone 5c – released in 2013 – Model numbers A1456, A1507, A1516, A1532
  • iPhone 5 – released in 2012 – Model numbers A1428, A1429, A1442
  • iPad (4th generation) – released late 2012 – Model numbers A1458, A1459, A1460
  • iPad (3rd generation) – released early 2012 – Model numbers A1416, A1430, A1403
  • iPad mini (1st generation) – released late 2012 – Model numbers A1432, A1454, A1455
  • iPad2 – released 2011 – Model numbers A1395, A1396, A1397

YouTube Changed Partner Program Eligibility Requirements



YouTube has made changes to its YouTube Partner Program (YPP) that it feels will better protect creators. The change in eligibility requirements for the YouTube Partner Program makes it much harder for creators with smaller fan bases to continue making money on YouTube.

In a Creator Blog post, YouTube explains that the changes were being made so they can “prevent bad actors from harming the inspiring and original creators around the world who make their living on YouTube.”

At a glance, this sounds like a reasonable thing to do. We’ve all heard about some “bad actors” who have become notorious after creating videos with despicable content. YouTube also has had problems with videos aimed at kids that included content that was not appropriate for children. Nobody wants those kinds of videos to be on YouTube.

In April of 2017, YouTube set a YouTube Partner Program eligibility requirement of 10,000 lifetime views. As of January 16, 2018, YouTube changed that requirement:

Starting today we’re changing the eligibility requirement for monetization to 4,000 hours of watchtime in the past 12 months and 1,000 subscribers. We’ve arrived at these new thresholds after thorough analysis and conversations with creators like you….

…On February 20th, 2017, we’ll also implement this threshold across existing channels on the platform, to allow for a 30 day grace period. On that date, channels with fewer than 1,000 subs or 4,000 watch hours will no longer be able to earn money on YouTube. When they reach 1,000 subs and 4,000 watch hours they will be automatically re-evaluated under strict criteria to ensure they comply with our policies. New channels will need to apply and their application will be evaluated when they hit these milestones.

New creators, and smaller creators, might not have 1,000 subscribers.They may struggle to get 4,000 hours of watchtime over the past 12 months – and to keep meeting that goal. It would have been better if YouTube could have found a way to get rid of “bad actors” without punishing creators who were following the rules.


Back from CES #1251



Back from CES I give you the insider run-down and whats to come. Very happy to be back in Hawaii and back in the studio even though I am still totally fragged from the show and vegas. Regular scheduled shows for the next month.

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Skylink Group Debuted Alexa Compatible NOVA at CES 2018



Skylink Group, a leading provider of connected home safety solutions, debuted the NOVA at CES 2018. NOVA is a Wi-Fi enabled, universal garage door controller device that can be retrofitted directly onto most garage door controllers on the market. It transforms existing garage door openers into smart openers through the SkylinkNet iOS or Android app.

In addition to remotely opening or closing most garage doors on the market, through the SkylinkNet app, the NOVA is compatible with the If This Then That (IFTTT) platform and Alexa Voice Services, allowing homeowners to manage a variety of connected home accessories from a myriad of manufactures through one device.

Doubling as an LED light fixture, the NOVA is also designed to detect the audible alarm from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in the home, automatically opening the garage door for added ventilation in case of an emergency.

Additional NOVA Features:

  • Integrated with Alexa Voice Services to open and close the garage door and to control other smart home devices through voice command for added convenience
  • Connects to a majority of existing garage door openers and smart home accessories on the market through the IFTTT platform
  • Features smart Wi-Fi connection protocol, allowing users to seamlessly connect to the home’s Wi-Fi network
  • Meets the UL 325 safety requirement to ensure a safe home for families across the world
  • Requires minimal wiring for a safe and easy install and set-up process
  • Designed as a 12W LED light, delivering the same brightness as a traditional 100W tungsten

Skylink’s NOVA retails for $99.99 and will be available at the www.skylinkstore.com in Spring of 2018.


Beyond Zero Showcased Machine that Freezes Alcohol at CES 2018



Beyond Zero showcased its disruptive technology at CES 2018. They displayed the “world’s first” machines which enable any user to make liquor or wine cubes to cool drinks while eliminating the need for drink-diluting water-wasting ice.

The machines are plug-and-play appliances which consume under 100W of power while automatically freezing pure liquor, wine, or mixed cocktails into ice in a matter of minutes. There is no use of chemical additives to freeze the spirits.

The liquor ice maker and accompanying storage freezer are in production, UL/NSF approved and available for sale.

The iconic design was created to capture the eye in any home or commercial environment. The lighting, use of colors and movement all sync to direct the user’s attention toward the technology by highlighting the process of the alcohol being frozen. Its intuitive touchscreen interface allows a user to push the boundaries of cocktail culture with the press of a button.

Beyond Zero also offers other creative new cocktail possibilities such as combining more than one liquor together in ice, making ice in different colors or providing drinks that get stronger, not weaker- as ice melts.


Spectra Unveiled SO-2000 Bluetooth Clock at CES 2018



Spectra Merchandising International, Inc. an industry pioneer in consumer electronics, unveiled the SoLIS SO-2000 Bluetooth/Wi-Fi Wireless clock with the Google Assistant built in at the CES 2018.

With the Google Assistant, the SO-2000 allows users to ask questions, play music and manage tasks. The unit includes two high fidelity speakers and an easy-to-read LED clock that automatically sets the time from the Google Cloud.

The SO-2000 also features Chromecast built in to stream music from your phone, tablet or laptop to the built-in speakers.

With the Google Home app, you can stream music to a single speaker, different music to individual speakers, or create groups for multi-room listening. Multi-room sync controls the music and plays the same song to any combination of multi-room compatible speakers at the same time.

SO-2000 product specifications:

  • Wireless Wi-Fi Streaming with the Google Assistant built in
  • Bluetooth Connectivity
  • Multi-Room Streaming and Wireless Control from Anywhere in Your Home with Chromecast built in
  • Front-firing 5W speakers
  • Power: 120V AC 60Hz
  • Output: 2x5W RMS
  • Dimensions: 6.25” (W) x 5.5” (D) x 7” (H)

The SO-2000 will be available mid-2018 in black or white for $169.99 MSRP.


SCOSCHE Industries Unveiled New RHYTHM24 Armband Heart Monitor at CES 2018



SCOSCHE Industries, innovators of award-winning consumer technology, powersports, and car audio products and accessories, has unveiled RHYTHM24, the next generation of SCOSCHE’s hyper-accurate waterproof armband heart rate monitor at CES 2018.

A successor to the RHYTHM+, a 2014 International CES Innovations Award Honoree, RHYTHM24 continues the company’s advancement in fitness wearable technology with an all-new look, expanded features, and variable activity modes to ensure accurate biometric measurements are captured, stored and shared with Bluetooth Smart and ANT+ devices like smart/sport watches, smartphones, tablets, exercise equipment and more.

RHYTHM24 boasts key upgrades to its predecessor, including a 24-hour battery life, IP68 sweatproof/waterproof rating, five changeable training/use zones/modes, and two multi-modes (designed for biathletes and triathletes training and activities), an LED batter indicator and on-board data recording.

The recording feature allows users to leave their mobile devices behind while they do fitness activities and then upload their workout data later.

RHYTHM24 heart monitoring modes offer a wide range of data capturing, including heart rate variability (HRV) mode, which allows users to monitor the time between each heartbeat for increased stress and recovery tracking. The device also now features heart rate profiles for a variety of activities, including swimming, running and cycling.

The RHYTHM24 measures blood flow and movement to calculate heart rate and calories burned more accurately than conventional heart rate monitors. The monitor is a silicone and polycarbonate hybrid with a soft elastic strap, which makes it both comfortable and functional during indoor or outdoor workouts.

The device is compatible with hundreds of the most popular fitness apps, such as RunKeeper, Map My Fitness, Strava and all other apps that support Bluetooth Smart, as well as fitness devices that support ANT+ technology, allowing users to utilize their data across numerous platforms.

The RHYTHM24, as well as its interchangeable armbands in a variety of colors, will be available starting Spring 2018.