NEW YORK (AP) — Comcast, which became a TV powerhouse by signing up Generation Xers, baby boomers and their parents, now is fighting for millennial eyeballs.
The TV giant is investing in online media outlets like BuzzFeed and Vox that attract young viewers. It’s setting up a streaming TV service for millennials who don’t watch a boob tube. And it’s developing a YouTube-like video app and website.
It’s the latest effort by the TV industry to attract younger customers at a time when ratings are sliding and more millennials are becoming “cord cutters” by ditching traditional cable entirely.
People ages 18 to 34 spent on average nearly 109 hours a month watching live TV in the first quarter of this year, according to Nielsen. That’s by far the largest amount of time spent on any device, but the number is down from more than 131 hours a month during the same period in 2011.
Meanwhile, time spent watching video on the Internet, though far smaller, is growing to about 17.5 hours per month. That’s up from just over 7 hours four years ago.
As a result, companies are trying to beef up their video and Internet offerings to appeal to millennials. They hope to capture what makes digital companies successful with younger viewers, says Ken Doctor, a media analyst.
“They want to import some of the digital DNA,” he says.
Cablevision, a New York-area cable company, sells HBO Now, the streaming version of the premium channel, to its Internet customers. It also has a package aimed at cord cutters that offers Internet service only and a digital antenna to pick up local broadcast networks like NBC and CBS.
Satellite TV company Dish Network has an Internet live TV service, Sling TV, which costs $20 a month. And Verizon has a mobile video service, which is expected to come out this year, and will stream sports and music with other content.
For its part, Comcast already is a cable giant, serving 22 percent of traditional U.S. TV customers and almost a quarter of Internet customers, according to data provider SNL Kagan. Now, it’s trying to expand that reach to include more millennials. That includes:
— A $15-a-month TV service called Stream, which is expected to begin in Boston in September, will include broadcast networks and HBO for its Internet customers. It will work on computers and devices inside a home network, but it’s currently limited outside of the house to mainly TV episodes that are available on-demand or that are recorded.
— Its NBCUniversal arm, like other entertainment conglomerates, is investing in new media. In August, it spent $200 million to add to Comcast’s stake in Vox Media, the media hub behind millennial-oriented news blog Vox, tech sites Re/code and The Verge, and other properties. It also invested $200 million in quiz-and-list site BuzzFeed.
NBCUniversal wants to work on video and ads with the companies — like collaborating on the Olympics with BuzzFeed. Both have visitors that are more likely to be ages 18 to 34 than do traditional news sites and apps from CNN and the New York Times, according to website tracker comScore.
“What you’re doing is seeking to engage the viewers where they are rather than seeking to get them to come somewhere they don’t want to go,” said Colin Dixon, a digital media analyst for nScreenMedia, talking about NBCUniversal’s investments.
— Working on putting together a YouTube-like set-top box app this fall for its customers and a free website and mobile app for anyone, according to a person familiar with Comcast’s plans who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly. Comcast wants the app to show video from companies like Disney’s Maker Studios, BuzzFeed, Vice, Vox and DreamWorks Animation’s AwesomenessTV, with ads.
The videos won’t be exclusive to the service, which is called Watchable. A Vox spokesman said he wasn’t able to comment, while a person familiar with BuzzFeed’s talks but who isn’t authorized to speak said a deal hadn’t been signed yet. Several prospective partners did not respond to questions.
It’s unclear whether the new services will attract younger viewers like Jiwei Zhang, 31, who canceled Comcast Internet and TV service a few months ago because her promotional price went up. She has Verizon’s FiOS Internet now at her home in North Bethesda, Maryland.
“I have an antenna. It works really well. I can receive more channels than with Comcast’s basic TV. I use Netflix and some other TV box from China,” Zhang said, referring to a service that enables her to watch Chinese shows and movies. “That’s enough for me.”
Lacy Davis, 25, says a new video aggregator like Watchable wouldn’t really appeal to her. Davis, who is also an AT&T cable customer in Dallas, already watches BuzzFeed videos on her phone because she sees them on Facebook, and YouTube videos sent by her friends on her computer.
“I’m actually fine where I am,” said Davis.
MIAMI (AP) — Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush escalated his feud with Donald Trump on Tuesday, betting big he can re-energize his stalled campaign by challenging the billionaire businessman head on.
It’s a risky strategy for the former Florida governor, still considered the GOP front-runner by many party officials, but a move his advisers suggest is necessary to reverse Trump’s unlikely ascension to the top of the 2016 presidential class.
Bush intensified his criticism of the former reality television star on multiple fronts, first releasing a Web video featuring clips of Trump himself promoting traditionally liberal positions in old interviews. “You’d be shocked if I said that in many cases I probably identify more as a Democrat,” Trump says in the video produced and promoted by the Bush campaign titled “Liberal Things That Trump Says.”
In a subsequent Fox News interview, Bush charged that “Trump is more a Democrat than a Republican.” Speaking to reporters in English and Spanish in Miami later in the day, Bush said: “He attacks me every day. He personalizes everything. If you’re not totally in agreement with him, you’re an idiot, you’re stupid, you have low energy, blah, blah, blah. That’s what he does.”
The Bush campaign reports that Tuesday’s political assault was not an isolated incident, but part of a broader strategy to engage Trump more directly. While the two have traded jabs before, the approach marks a shift for Bush, who previously preferred to ignore Trump’s bombast altogether.
“Trump has attacked Jeb’s wife, his mother, he’s taken him out of context and lied about his record,” said Bush spokesman Tim Miller. “It’s incumbent upon us to not just set the record straight about Jeb’s record, and not just fight back, but also expose Trump as somebody who’s completely misrepresenting himself to voters.”
Miller promised the campaign would release “more digital products,” such as the video, in the coming days, while Bush would continue to be aggressive on the campaign trail.
Bush, the son of one president and brother of another, is certainly not the first Republican presidential contender to go after Trump, yet he has the highest profile of the critics. The struggles of Trump’s other critics offer a pointed reminder of the risks of confronting a man whose business is confrontation.
Trump released a Web video of his own later in the day highlighting Bush’s praise for the Clinton family. And on Twitter, Trump noted that other presidential contenders have tried to take him on.
He dismissed Bush’s video as “yet another weak hit by a candidate with a failing campaign. Will Jeb sink as low in the polls as the others who have gone after me?”
Indeed, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul have lashed out at Trump at times over the summer. Each man dropped in the polls as Trump grew stronger.
Bush maintains an overwhelming fundraising advantage over much of his Republican competition but he, too, has struggled in recent polls. Quinnipiac University pollster Peter Brown noted that no candidate has suffered more during Trump’s rise than Bush.
“Obviously, Trump has found — at least for now — a strategy that works,” Brown said, adding that Bush may be trying to pitch himself “as less of a policy wonk and more of a potential president who can dish it out as well as he can take it.”
Political operatives note that the next phase of the 2016 campaign is just beginning.
After a summer season in which most voters typically don’t closely follow national politics, many candidates, Bush among them, will start advertising on television in coming weeks. A pro-Bush super PAC is set to spend $12 million on an advertising campaign to begin running in key states later in the month.
Bush “knows the contours of this primary will change by late fall and early 2016,” said Republican operative Leonard Alcivar. “He also knows his super PAC is weeks away from dropping millions of dollars in positive TV ads and mail highlighting his conservative record as governor. When that happens, no one will be talking about Web videos.”
Former New Hampshire GOP Chairman Fergus Cullen praised Bush’s decision to confront Trump.
“I’ve watched so many others pander — I’m looking at your Scott Walker and Ted Cruz — and the rest of the field run for cover,” Cullen said. “I really think this is a leadership test. Trump is doing serious damage to our party.”
Peoples reported from Washington.
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A debate over Connecticut’s wildlife policy reignited after state officials said last week they will trap and kill a bear cub that approached a hiker in a wildlife area, startling but not harming her.
Animal rights advocates say the policy is inhumane and ineffective, and a social media petition drive is underway to protest the planned killing.
State wildlife officials say the bear was “bold and aggressive” and euthanizing it will protect the public.
Stephanie Rivkin said the young bear that approached her Friday and another watching from a distance were “very gentle.”
“I was scared, but not for my life,” she said, adding, “but maybe for a second.”
As Connecticut’s bear population rises, state wildlife officials and animal advocates clash with each encounter between the animals and humans. The incident at Sessions Woods Wildlife Management Area in Burlington received more attention because Rivkin captured it on video and posted it online.
The bear, whose ears are tagged from a previous encounter with state wildlife officials, approached Rivkin and put its nose against her leg. It appeared curious or nervous and ran several times to a tree.
Rivkin, 38, kept walking and talked softly to the animal. “Don’t be scared,” she said several times.
Officials quickly closed the wildlife area to visitors and said they would trap and kill the bear.
Rivkin said the decision upset her. “I’m not sure of the intentions of that place,” she said.
Dave Garshelis, a wildlife research scientist at the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and an expert on bears at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, said people who feed bears are creating the problem. Relocating a bear doesn’t guarantee its behavior will change, and euthanizing it is often the only way to protect the public, he said.
“A normal black bear should make itself scarce and not be seen,” Garshelis said.
Katherine Campoli, who said she was “very upset” to hear about Connecticut’s plan to kill the bear, launched a petition campaign on Twitter, using the hashtag #sparethebear. She said she will present the petition to Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
“I’m going to take it as far as it can go to save this little guy,” she said.
The Humane Society of the United States met last month with environmental commissioner Rob Klee and other officials to protest the agency’s killing of a bear after an encounter in May. The two sides disagree over the extent of public education about bears.
Rivkin said she’s ready to avoid the area and cede it to the bears.
“Maybe I need to stay out of the woods and respect their space,” she said.
Follow Stephen Singer on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SteveSinger10
CRANFORD, N.J. (AP) — Two former New Jersey day care workers are accused of instigating fights among children in their care.
Prosecutors say 22-year-old Erica Kenny, of Cranford, and 28-year-old Chanese White, of Roselle, are each charged with child abuse. Kenny also faces a child endangerment charge.
Authorities say the pair instigated fights among children ranging in age from 4 to 6 at the Lightbridge Academy in Cranford on at least one day last month. They also say Kenny recorded video of the fights and shared the clips with several friends on social media.
Union County investigators say about a dozen boys and girls are shown in the clips shoving each other to the ground and trying to hit each other. The children apparently didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
It wasn’t known Tuesday if Kenny or White had retained attorneys.
BANGKOK (AP) — Thai authorities arrested a man they believe is part of a group responsible for a deadly bombing at a shrine in central Bangkok two weeks ago, the prime minister announced Tuesday. He said the suspect resembles a yellow-shirted man in a surveillance video who police say planted the bomb.
“It would be great if he were (the bomber). Then we will know who they are, where they came from, who’s behind this,” Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters.
He said the man is a foreigner and was detained in eastern Thailand near the Cambodian border, one of several border crossings where authorities set up checkpoints after the Aug. 17 bombing which killed 20 people, many of them foreign tourists, and injured more than 120.
Prayuth said authorities plan to check fingerprints and conduct DNA tests to establish whether the man is the bomber. Police say they obtained the bomber’s DNA from a motorcycle taxi and a three-wheeled tuk-tuk taxi that he used.
Spokesmen for police and the military junta that rules Thailand both later said the arrested man resembles the suspect they have been seeking for planting the bomb.
No one has publicly claimed responsibility for the attack, sparking an array of theories about who might be behind it. Police have suggested that the suspects were part of a people-smuggling group who held a grudge against Thai authorities.
Speculation has grown that the suspect might be part of a group seeking to avenge Thailand’s forced repatriation of ethnic Uighurs to China in July. Prayuth on Monday linked the two theories, suggesting the bombers might have been involved in smuggling Uighurs out of China.
Prayuth said officials knew from their investigation that people involved in the bombing were about to flee the country and had traced the man to Aranyaprathet district in Sa Kaeo province, a crossing point to Cambodia. The prime minister described the man as a piece in a jigsaw puzzle that would connect various parts of the case, which included a bomb that exploded harmlessly in a river next to a busy pier in Bangkok the day after the shrine blast.
Prayuth warned against speculating about the arrested man until more information is learned.
“Don’t say just yet it’s about this and that. It could affect international affairs,” he said. “We have to do a lot of tests, fingerprints. If he is the guy, he is the guy.”
“Officials are certain he is a main suspect in this case,” national police spokesman Prawuth Thavornsiri said later at a news conference, adding that the authorities are waiting for witnesses to confirm whether he is the yellow-shirted man. He said the man is being held by the military under Article 44 of its interim constitution, which gives the prime minister absolute power to issue any order deemed necessary to keep public order or strengthen public unity and harmony.
Prawuth said three new arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the case, bringing the total to seven. Two were named persons — he could not provide spellings for the names of the men, whose nationalities were unknown — while the third was not identified by name but was described as a Turkish national. He displayed pictures of the three on a tablet computer.
The blast at the Erawan Shrine was unprecedented in the Thai capital, where smaller bombs have been employed in domestic political violence over the past decade, but not in an effort to cause large-scale casualties.
Security officials on Saturday arrested a man during a raid on a Bangkok apartment that contained some bomb-making materials, and Thai military authorities have been interrogating him. He has been linked to the shrine bombing, but the authorities have not yet released his name or nationality.
Arrest warrants were issued Monday for two more suspects, a Thai woman and a man of unknown nationality, after a raid Sunday on a second apartment found more bomb-making materials. Relatives of the woman who had rented the second apartment told authorities that she is innocent and is now in Turkey, married to a Turkish man. The three new arrest warrants announced Tuesday were related to the apartment raided Saturday, police spokesman Prawuth said.
Uighurs are related to Turks, and Turkey is home to a large Uighur community. The Erawan Shrine is especially popular with Chinese tourists, feeding the idea that it could be a target for people who believe the Uighurs are oppressed by China’s government. Beijing says some Uighurs are Islamist terrorists, and among them is a group that has been smuggled out of China to join Islamic State fighters in Syria.
The suspect arrested Saturday had a Turkish passport, though Thai authorities say it was fake. At his apartment, they seized at least 11 passports that appeared to be Turkish, among more than 200 passports in all.
A Turkish Foreign Ministry official said Monday that reports that the woman wanted by Thai police may be in Turkey and other allegations about a Turkish connection were “speculation” and that the ministry would not comment on speculation.
The official said he had no information about the woman and could not confirm that her husband is Turkish.
The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government rules that bar officials from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.
SINGAPORE (AP) — Singapore’s political parties officially started campaigning Tuesday for general elections in which, for the first time in the island-nation’s history, the ruling People’s Action Party faces contests in all available seats.
Although the PAP is expected to return to power in the Sept. 11 elections, the vote will demonstrate the growing strength of the opposition, which had largely remained emasculated for decades. It is now riding an anti-establishment wave, thanks to the disenchantment with the ruling party over the rising cost of living, restrictions on freedom of expression, and a rising tide of immigration to fill not only low-paying jobs but also middle and high-paying positions.
“Last time I was not interested in politics, I didn’t care. But the more I look at it now, the more I feel it isn’t right,” said Jon Chan, 52, who is unemployed.
“We are turning our citizens into a minority, and giving Singapore to foreigners on a silver platter. We should have a Singaporean Singapore,” he said.
Singapore citizens currently make up 61 percent of the country’s 5.47 million people, many of them recent migrants. The population is expected to increase to 6.5 million or even 6.9 million by 2030 of which 45 percent will be foreigners, partly to tackle low birth rates.
While official campaigning starts Tuesday, most parties have already introduced their candidates through press conferences, videos and savvy mobile applications.
Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong urged voters to give his party — in power since Singapore’s birth 50 years ago — a “fresh and strong mandate” in setting the direction for the next 50 years.
“The PAP will fight to win every vote. Your future is at stake. Our future is at stake. And the PAP carries a heavy responsibility for this future,” said Lee, 63.
The current parliament has 87 elected seats, of which the PAP holds 80 and the opposition Workers’ Party 7. In the Sept. 11 elections, the number of seats will be raised to 89.
While it may appear that the PAP won the 2011 general election by a landslide, it did so with 60 percent of all votes in its worst electoral performance. Since then it has lost two by-elections.
An electoral system in which some constituencies are represented by a group of four to six lawmakers has helped to boost the winning party’s numbers. This time, 16 wards will be contested in groups, while 13 others will be contested individually. In previous elections, the PAP’s power was so absolute that the opposition could not even gather enough candidates to contest all constituencies.
But over the years, the opposition began attracting more supporters and candidates willing to contest, despite knowing that they will most likely lose.
In 2011, the only constituency left uncontested was the five-member ward of Tanjong Pagar, led by Singapore’s founding father and former Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, who died in March at age 91. Lee, the father of the current prime minister, is widely credited with Singapore’s progress from a colonial backwater to a modern economic hub.
This time, the opposition will field candidates in all constituencies. Still, the main opposition Workers’ Party has put up candidates for 28 seats – not enough to form the government even if it wins all.
On Tuesday, candidates filed their election papers at nine schools designated as nomination centers, and paid a deposit of 14,500 Singapore dollars ($10,300) to become eligible to contest in the election.
“Sure, the key issue more broadly will be about a government and opposition movement that is able to ensure that Singapore enjoys effective and good government,” said Gillian Koh, a senior research fellow at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.