Connect with us

World

China ice hockey may be set to join basketball in top charts: Scott O’Neil

Published

on

Ice hockey in China might not be as popular as basketball for now, but the winter sport looks set to climb up the charts, according to the chief executive of a sports and entertainment company.

“In time, hockey will join basketball at the top of the charts in China,” Scott O’Neil, the CEO of Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment told CNBC on Monday.

In a country where the National Basketball Association (NBA) is the most popular sports league, and basketball is played by 300 million, such a prediction for the Chinese ice hockey scene may seem rather bold.

But in reality, China’s interest in ice hockey has been growing in recent years.

The National Hockey League partnered with Chinese company O.R.G. Packaging to host the NHL China Games for the first time in 2017. And last year, thousands of fans thronged to the stadiums in Shenzhen and Beijing to watch the pre-season exhibition games between the NHL’s Boston Bruins and Calgary Flames.

Harris Blitzer Sports & Entertainment owns a number of sports teams including the NBA’s Philadelphia 76ers and the NHL’s Jersey Devils.

A Chinese boy plays ice hockey on the frozen Shichahai Lake on January 3, 2006 in Beijing, China.

Cancan Chu | Getty Images News | Getty Images

O’Neil hopes to continue driving Chinese interest in ice hockey by starting with its youth. That includes getting children interested in the sport by introducing them to NHL players and teams, as well as watching the game.

Getting them involved in the sport is crucial too, he said. “The key here is consistency … and that we’re running clinics, that we’re running camps, and that we have learn-to-skate programs, just like we do in the U.S.

“This will be an incredible hockey market,” he added.

Winter Olympics in Beijing

Another boost for ice hockey in China will be the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics. In preparation for the games, China has been organizing national league matches for their national ice hockey team to help improve their capabilities. Beijing has also invited Chinese players from overseas leagues to return to play for China.

Beijing 2022 will give the sport “some momentum” to build on, O’Neil said.

China currently has 400 ice hockey rinks in the country but more needs to be done in terms of infrastructure, he pointed out.

More rinks are still needed to grow the sport — but that’s going to take time, as much more infrastructure is needed to build an ice rink than other sporting facilities, such as a basketball court.

NHL has been exploring the Chinese market, with its commissioner Gary Bettman working on grassroots programs to “plough the way,” according to O’Neil.

“The key, I think for hockey, just like it is in the NBA … is just the sense that we have to bring the game here,” he said. “And then we have to do a much better job on our terms of creating content, so that the incredible fans of China can see and experience these incredible athletes as people.”

Source link

World

Nikola shares fall to new low on Wedbush downgrade

Published

on

Continue Reading

World

Amazon Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite announced, start at $30

Published

on

Amazon Fire TV Stick Lite

Amazon

Amazon announced two new Fire TV products during its big online hardware event on Thursday. Amazon’s Fire TV gadgets compete directly with Roku and Apple TV, offering people access to popular apps like Disney+, Netflix, Hulu and more. 

Amazon says people are spending more time in front of TVs than ever before due to the spread of coronavirus. It sees the TV as a the center of the household and wants to get even more features in front of users to keep them coming back. The new features may help it compete more aggressively against Roku, which still has a 50% market share of global connected TV streaming hours with strong growth opportunities, according to an analyst note from Deutsche Bank in August.

The new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite will be the first of Amazon’s streaming gadgets to offer a redesigned home screen when they launch next week, although the changes will come to existing Fire TV devices beginning in the first quarter of 2020, too.

Here’s what you need to know.

Easier to find stuff to watch, new user profiles

The new Amazon Fire TV interface, which includes user profiles.

Amazon

Amazon’s vice president and general manager of Fire TV, Sandeep Gupta, told CNBC that Amazon received feedback from users suggesting the home screen was too cluttered. Amazon worked on a redesign to make it easier to find stuff to watch and to quickly jump into live TV.

“Today, you can search for comedies, or stuff by Tom Cruise, but we’ve tried to make a landing spot for when you don’t know what you want to watch. This shows you stuff that’s free, movies and TV shows, broader categories, apps and more,” Gupta said. Gupta said the quick access to a TV guide will provide a familiar experience for people transitioning from cable TV to streaming.

The new software supports up to six user profiles. That means you can log into your profile and see the shows and movies Amazon recommends to you, while your significant other can use a separate account for their own personalized recommendations. You can also create profiles for children that will only show kid-friendly content you’ve approved. Previously, you’d have to switch profiles inside each app, like Netflix or Hulu, to see content recommended to you inside those apps.

The latest software provides a new option to see your Ring or Alexa-ready video cameras on your TV through picture-in-picture — kind of like seeing a small window on your screen — while you’re watching movies or TV show. 

Finally, Amazon is expanding its Alexa voice assistant on Fire TV. Gupta told CNBC that there are billions of requests to Alexa and that it has seen an 80% growth in requests on Fire TV over the last year, although he did not provide specific figures.

“It’s a good indication people like Alexa and are using it more to manage shopping routines, recipes, whatever it is, in a centralized place,” he said. Alexa’s responses now pop up and cover just a small part of the screen so you can keep watching or doing what you were without being interrupted.

Video chat for Amazon Fire TV Cube

The Amazon Fire TV Cube

Amazon

Separately from the Fire TV sticks, though still part of the new software that will roll out to other Amazon Fire TV gadgets during the first quarter of 2020, is new video chat support.

People who own the second-generation Fire TV Cube will soon be able to add a Logitech webcam for video chat through Fire TV. It’ll support Alexa video calls and, later, Zoom. It won’t work on the Fire TV sticks since it requires a USB port that’s only found on the Fire TV Cube.

New Amazon Fire TV Sticks price and release date

The new Amazon Fire TV Stick

Amazon

The Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick are relatively similar. They’ll cost $39.99 and $29.99, respectively. The Fire TV Stick offers support for newer technologies, like HDR and Dolby Atmos if your TV and speakers support them. Neither support 4K video and are capped at 1080p, so, don’t buy them if you have a 4K TV and want the best quality possible.

If you need 4K, look at the Fire TV Stick 4K, which costs $49.99 but doesn’t ship with the new software. The Fire TV Stick Lite is more basic without Dolby Atmos and some of the more advanced Wi-Fi support for more stable streaming. Both are said to be 50% faster than the last-generation Fire TV Stick, however, and both come with voice remotes that you can use to speak with Alexa to open movies, TV shows, apps and more.

Pre-orders for the new Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Stick Lite begin on Thursday and they’ll begin arriving to customers on Sept. 30.

Subscribe to CNBC on YouTube. 

Source link

Continue Reading

World

Spotify CEO to invest over $1 billion for ‘moonshot’ bets in Europe

Published

on

Spotify CEO Daniel Ek

Toru Yamanaka | AFP/Getty Images

LONDON — Spotify CEO Daniel Ek announced Thursday that he will commit 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion) of his own resources to invest in European start-ups.

Speaking at a virtual talk hosted by start-up event organizer Slush, Ek said he would use the funds to make “moonshot” bets in the continent, focusing on deep technology — new tools that are focused on scientific innovation. Among the sectors Ek is looking to invest in are health, education, machine learning and biotechnology.

“I want to do my part; we all know that one of the greatest challenges is access to capital,” Ek said, adding he wanted to achieve a “new European dream” — akin to that of the American Dream — over the next decade.

According to Forbes, Ek is worth $3.6 billion, indicating he’s earmarking roughly a third of his own wealth for the investments.

Ek spoke of his frustration with the number of European tech companies being bought up by U.S. rivals, as well as a brain drain of talented entrepreneurs leaving the region for Silicon Valley. One of the most notable examples of European entrepreneurs heading to the U.S. is payments giant Stripe, whose Irish founders went to California to build their company.

“I get really frustrated when I see European entrepreneurs giving up on their amazing visions selling early on to non-European companies, or when some of the most promising tech talent in Europe leaves because they don’t feel valued here,” Ek said. “We need more super companies that raise the bar and can act as an inspiration.”

Europe is often seen as lagging the U.S. and China with respect to technology. While those two economic powerhouses have produced some of the world’s biggest tech companies — Amazon, Microsoft, Tencent and Alibaba, to name a few — Europe is yet to offer a similar scale of success in the industry.

Last year, a record $34.3 billion flowed into Europe’s fledgling tech start-ups, according to figures from venture capital firm Atomico. Companies in the region have continued to raise substantial sums of cash this year, with “buy now, pay later” service Klarna raising $650 million and digital banking app Revolut securing $580 million in fresh funds.

Ek said he will work with scientists, investors, and governments to make his investments. A $1.2 billion fund would see the Spotify founder competing with well-established venture funds like Atomico — itself founded by former Skype CEO Niklas Zennström — Balderton Capital and Northzone.

Another issue in the region’s tech ecosystem has been initial public offerings. Spotify, which is based in Stockholm, Sweden, listed in New York over two years ago, while London-based online luxury marketplace Farfetch also chose America for its market debut. Europe has lagged behind in terms of tech IPOs this year, while a raft of software companies are going public in the U.S.

Source link

Continue Reading

Trending