NBC is offering full-length pilot episodes of Revolution and The New Normal for free online via, Hulu, iTunes, Amazon and Xbox.

While the shows’ television premieres are still a little less than two weeks away, their online debuts are part of NBC’s effort to drum up new fans and pique interest prior to their primetime launch.

The network pulled a similar move this January when it offered the pilot episode of its musical drama Smash for free on iTunes, Amazon Instant Video and other online video services. And that heavy promotion proved to be a smart investment — Smash‘s Feb. 6 television debut garnered 11.44 million viewers. NBC renewed it for a second season.

“We’re taking the proven success of sampling to the next level, expanding its reach with a comprehensive strategy that makes our entire freshman line-up widely available across multiple digital platforms,” Robert Hayes, executive vice president of NBC Entertainment Digital, said in a July statement.

NBC isn’t the only network to release fall’s most buzzworthy shows online prior to their television debuts. Last week, FOX released the pilot episodes of its upcoming comedies The Mindy Project and Ben and Kate online via Hulu, Facebook and other websites.

The New Normal Pilot

This new comedy is NBC’s answer to ABC’s smash hit Modern Family. The New Normal follows Bryan (Andrew Rannells, Girls, The Book of Mormon) and David (Justin Bartha, The Hangover) in their quest for a baby via their surrogate, Goldie (Georgia King, One Day), who is an extraordinary young woman with a checkered past.

Other notable stars include Ellen Barkin and NeNe Leakes.

The New Normal nestles into its 9:30 p.m. spot on Tuesdays, starting Sept. 11.

Revolution Pilot

J.J. Abrams is famous for his twisting, mysterious plots, and we expect nothing less from his upcoming drama Revolution. The show centers on one family’s struggle to reunite after a massive power outage blacks out every single piece of technology.

Set in a post-apocalypic America, Revolution follows Charlie Matheson (Tracy Spiridakos, Being Human) as she looks for her brother Danny (Graham Rogers, Memphis Beat), who is kidnapped by militia leaders for a darker purpose.

Revolution will slide into Monday’s 10 p.m. time-slot on Sept. 17.

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Xbox Video and Xbox Games are coming to Windows 8; this means that starting on Oct. 26 — when Microsoft’s latest OS launches — users will be able to purchase and rent content from the Xbox Video store on their Windows 8 devices.

What’s more, they can browse the Xbox Games catalog for titles that are PC-compatible, including games that can interact with the Xbox console. Along with the new Xbox Music service, this brings a host of new entertainment options to Windows 8 right at launch.

Until now, Microsoft hasn’t offered access to its video catalog outside of the Xbox. When Windows only ran on laptops and desktops, this made sense. After all, users could download or stream video from various services, not to mention watch DVDs. But now that the Surface and other Windows 8 tablets and hybrids are about to hit the market, having access to a more robust content ecosystem is essential.

Plus, with Xbox SmartGlass, Windows 8 users will be able to push video from their Xbox to a Windows 8 device (or vice versa) with the tap of a button.

While the title selection of the Xbox Video store isn’t as comprehensive as what iTunes offers, the catalog still has a wide selection for both movies and TV. For users who are already invested in their Xbox ecosystem, bringing the content onto the PC is a no-brainer.

Microsoft says it’s committed to extending the Xbox brand beyond gaming, and moving beyond the console. It’s no wonder: Xbox is one of the most valuable brands within Microsoft. Bringing Xbox services and extending its content to more devices only makes that brand more powerful.

Xbox Video and Xbox Games are just the latest entertainment-focused apps to hit Windows 8. Last week, Netflix released its official app for the OS. On Monday, Hulu Plus got the Windows 8 treatment, and it looks great.

Again, the real potential of these app-specific developments is when you look at Windows RT tablets, such as the Microsoft Surface. Out of the gate, Windows 8 will have support for the biggest entertainment video platforms and the ability to easily connect to an Xbox account to play games or view achievements. In the future, we can envision multiplayer games getting released on Xbox and Windows 8 simultaneously, with the option of users picking up a match from one device to the next.

Are you excited about Xbox content making its way to Windows 8? Let us know in the comments.

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If you liked David Neevel’s Oreo Separator Machine, we’ve got a treat for you. MTV and its connected content lab, MTV Other, have a new web series starring the quirky physicist.

The new project, Practically Useful, premieres today — watch the debut episode above. It centers on Neevel as he attempts to tackle some of life’s greatest challenges, like applying deodorant and opening bottles.

The physicist, both the star and the creator of the show, stepped into the Internet spotlight after videos of his Oreo splitter and email-writing guitar went viral (watch both below).


Using his engineering skills, Neevel taps commonplace electronics to make “practically useful” inventions — ones that are not only simple, but also simple-minded — to improve our everyday lives. After all, if his brainchilds only work in theory, they’re not “practically useful.”

MTV Other also serves as the home of shows Late Night Munchies, Inside Joke, Showbiz and Rock Stories. The digital studio’s content is currently accessible via the MTV app on iOS and on its standalone site. Apps are also in the works for Android and Xbox users.

What do you think of the first episode of Neevel’s show? Let us know in the comments below.

Image courtesy of MTV Other

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HBO Go Comes to AirPlay


HBO subscribers can now use the HBO Go app on their iPhone, iPod touch or iPad devices to stream shows on to their HDTVs using AirPlay, Eric Kessler, president and chief operating officer of HBO, announced on stage at AllThingsD‘s media conference Tuesday. The capability is being released as an update to HBO Go’s iOS apps.

HBO Go is already available on other entertainment consoles, including Xbox and Roku, as well as on Samsung Smart TVs and the web. It’s also available as an app for iOS and Android devices. “The long-term vision is for Go to be on all platforms and all devices,” he said.

AllThingsD‘s Kara Swisher, who conducted the interview, asked why HBO didn’t make itself available directly on Apple TVs. Kessler said its shows will be available on the set-top box, but did not specify a timeline for doing so. A report published by Bloomberg earlier this month said that HBO would be available on Apple TVs by mid-year.

Despite consumer demand, Kessler says HBO has no plans to offer access to its channel or individual shows outside of cable packages because the economics are simply not “compelling.”

Image courtesy of iStockphoto, contour99

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Last week, Jimmy Fallon held his popular video games week. The last video of the series, titled Gaming With My Mom, went viral over the weekend, and currently stands with over 850,000 hits

Jimmy asked his dedicated fans to play some video games with their moms and record the fun. Naturally, moms trying to game makes for some great entertainment. 


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Netflix has moved its “Just for Kids” section to tablet territory, launching the section in the Netflix app for Apple’s iPad.

The new section, aimed at kids aged 12 and under, lets users choose shows to watch from a grid of icons. Clicking a button in the Netflix app will take users right to the section, explained the company in a blog post. Kids can also search for shows by character or genre; when they find something interesting, they can start watching by double tapping the icon.

Shows such as Bob The Builder, Thomas the Tank Engine, Curious George, SpongeBob, Power Rangers and others are available.

The app is available for the iPad 2 and the new iPad, but Netflix promises to release a version for the original iPad and Android tablets “later.”

Netflix launched its “Just for Kids” section in August 2011, bringing it to PlayStation 3 in March 2012. It is also available for PC and Mac, Nintendo Wii, Xbox and Apple TV.

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Mister Rogers Explained To Modern Kids Will Warm Your Heart

It’s a sad thought to realize that kids these days have no idea who Mister Rogers is. BuzzFeed explains that back in the day, nearly every kid would come home from school and instead of going online or playing XBox, they’d turn on PBS to hang out with Mister Rogers. It was a simpler time that can’t compare to what kids today have. 


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The Amazon Fire TV game controller, announced April 2, 2014.
Image: Mashable, Christina Ascani

Amazon’s announcement of a set-top box Wednesday morning came to no surprise to anyone following the space. The inclusion of gaming elements was also not a surprise; leaked images of its controller appeared online a month ago and were spot on to what the company showed off at Fire TV unveiling.

Gaming may not have been the forefront of the presentation or press materials, but its hard to ignore the message it sends. Between next-generation consoles like the Xbox One and PlayStation 4, Nintendo’s more family-focused Wii U, the upcoming Valve Steam machines that bring PC gaming to the TV, Android-based gaming consoles like the OUYA, there’s no shortage of ways to get games and other content on your TV in one place.

Amazon may have the power to get wide adoption for the Fire TV, but will it solve any problems for gaming, or add another piece of hardware to a very crowded marketplace?

Android Console Mania

Let’s flash back two summers ago, to the Kickstarter campaign for the OUYA. The $99, Android-based gaming console raised $2.6 million on the first day of funding based on the promise of opening mobile gaming to the television. Others joined in the marketplace: the GameStick, the GamePop, and other controllers that promised to bring your Android games to the TV.

The OUYA is really the only remaining game in town from that lot, and it has even pivoted from its original business model in the way games are sold in its marketplace. Both it and the Amazon Fire TV have the same starting price point — $99 — though you’ll need to plunk down another $40 get Amazon’s game controller. Games on both aren’t expensive either; many OUYA games are still “free-to-try” and Amazon touted most of its titles will cost around $1.84.

So are OUYA’s creators scared?

“Just as Amazon blazed a trail for a new way of selling online, OUYA invented a new way to think about console games. But for us, games are not simply an ‘added bonus’ — they’re the whole point. OUYA is solely dedicated to the devs creating games, and the players who play them. Their ideal experience is all we think about,” said OUYA CEO Julie Uhrman in a statement.

Uhrman’s point is correct. Amazon needs to make sure to give the Fire TV game store the curation and love it requires. Otherwise it will be a giant headache for users, and won’t attract new players. But while the company didn’t make a big show of all the talent it had brought in to the gaming space, publishers and developers were very quickly to send out releases about new titles coming to Fire TV. The number is very encouraging, with casual/mobile names like GameLoft, Glu and Jackbox Games creating content alongside AAA publishers like EA, 2K Games and Ubisoft, names normally associated with traditional game consoles.

Gunning for next-gen

For casual gamers ever considering picking up a next-generation gaming console, the decision now may be less clear cut. If you were already on board with purchasing an Xbox One, PlayStation 4 or Wii U, you probably already grabbed at least one of those. All three offer lots of gaming options, but also integration with media apps like like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, YouTube and more.

Consoles like that each come with big exclusive titles that attract gamers; the Xbox One is drawing shooter fans in with Titanfall for example. But if you just play a few games, and if you don’t spend a ton on it as a hobby, you might not want to spend $400 to $500 on a new console. Adults who have “aged out” of gaming and parents with young kids are perfect examples of this potential demographic.

A major push during the Xbox One marketing campaign was how it integrated into all aspects of entertainment. While the One certainly still does much more, like work with a cable box, Kinect-based fitness apps, Skype and an online friends list, there might be customers who don’t want all the extra bells and whistles and will be happy with a snazzy set-top box. (Provided they don’t already have an Apple TV, Chromecast or Roku.) Nintendo and Sony may have less to worry from this challenger, since both cater to more specific segments of the gamer population with their consoles.

The hackneyed phrase “content is king” never rang more true, though. Android, as a mobile platform, suffers because it doesn’t get the best games first. Amazon will have to build a user base developers want to make games for, but also bring games that make people want to buy a controller. With games coming from its own internal studio, which just hired more talent like the designer of seminal puzzle game Portal, the company could be on the right track.


Existing research on the impact violent video games, television shows and movies have on children is outdated, according to a new report released this week.

The report was released by Common Sense Media, a nonprofit group that advocates for children and families with a focus on media. It analyzes the current information and studies done in recent years relating violence in the media to its effect on children. After looking at the data available, Common Sense Media determined that this information hasn’t kept pace with rapidly changing content.

“The presence of violent images in advertising seen by children has barely been studied, comprehensive research on TV violence is nearly two decades old, video game research hasn’t kept pace with current modes of gaming or tracked the content most consumed by youth, and studies of online exposure are nearly nonexistent,” the report states.

For instance, two studies about media violence and its impact on children are cited in the report to demonstrate how varied findings are on this particular topic. Both studies are from 2012. The first one shows a link between aggressive behavior in children and media violence, while the other shows no evidence of a link between violent video games and aggressive behavior in children. A possible reason for these polar results could be that studies monitoring media have “widely varying” standards for what constitutes violence, the report says. Also, studies examining media can be costly, time consuming and difficult to design, which could also account for the variance.

There are some other details that need more research, too, like what type of violence children are exposed to (gruesome versus slapstick). This can depend on which genre of television or movies they watch. More research also needs to be poured into the effect of violence in advertising on children, since the report states this is an area that is often ignored.

But what’s certain is that children are exposed to violence through the media. A study from the Kaiser Family Foundation from 2010, cited in the report, shows children and teens consume an average of seven hours of screen time per day. From other research, CSM concludes that 90% of movies include some scenes of violence, as do 68% of video games, 60% of TV shows, and 15% of music videos. Whether that has an impact on children’s behavior remains to be determined for certain.

“However, the research that is available does allow us to think about violent media as a ‘risk factor’ to violence — one variable among many that increases the risk of violent behavior among some children,” writes Julia Plonowski, communications manager for Common Sense Media.

It’s possible we could see some new and more in-depth research about the effect of media on children in the future. President Obama recently called for $10 million in funds to be directed toward this type of research during a speech about gun violence shortly after the recent shooting in Newtown, Conn.

Do you think any particular media is more harmful to children than others? What effect do you think violence in media has on children and teens, if any? Tell us in the comments.

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto, alvar

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