‘Westworld’ will soon stream for free on Roku and Tubi after leaving HBO Max

Westworld fans who've been mourning the show's disappearance from HBO Max will soon have another way to watch it. Warner Bros. Discovery is bringing free, ad-supported streaming (aka FAST) channels to Roku and Tubi in the coming months. One of those channels, called WB TV Series, will feature premium shows such as Westworld, Raised by Wolves, The Nevers and The Time Traveler’s Wife. WBD yanked all of those shows from HBO Max in December.

WB TV Series, and two other channels focused on reality and family-friendly shows, will debut on Tubi as soon as February 1st, according to Variety. Eleven more FAST channels from WBD are coming to the platform soon, including ones centered around baking competition series, classic movies from the late 20th century and true crime shows. The channels will arrive on the Roku Channel this spring. All told, WBD is bringing more than 2,000 hours of shows and movies to both platforms.

Meanwhile, WBD is preparing to merge HBO Max and Discovery+, a move that's slated to start in the US this spring. The company hasn't announced the name for the combined service just yet, but at one point the frontrunner was reportedly just "Max."

Paramount+ Premium will absorb Showtime and rebrand as ‘Paramount+ With Showtime’

Amid stern competition from other streaming platforms, Paramount Global is combining two of its services. It will fold Showtime into the Premium tier of Paramount+ later this year. The combined offering will be known as “Paramount+ With Showtime.”

Showtime's linear TV network will be rebranded with the same name in the US. As part of the move, some Paramount+ original programs will air on the cable network — so maybe more people will finally recognize the brilliance of The Good Fight.

“Now, with Showtime’s content integrated into our flagship streaming service, and select Paramount+ originals joining the linear offering, Paramount+ will become the definitive multiplatform brand in the streaming space — and the first of its kind to integrate streaming and linear content in this way,” Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish said in a memo to staff, as Variety reports. "This change will also drive stronger alignment across our domestic and international Paramount+ offerings, as international Paramount+ already includes Showtime content.”

Showtime debuted its own streaming service in 2015, a year after CBS All Access arrived. The latter was rebranded as Paramount+ in 2021. Last year, Paramount Global integrated Showtime content into its namesake streaming service as part of a bundle. Now, it's going a step further by unifying them.

While the move may come as a disappointment to those who are only interested in Showtime's content and aren't sold on Paramount+, the move makes sense from a business perspective. There's a wave of consolidation across the media industry, including in streaming, where HBO Max and Discovery+ will combine in the coming months.

Paramount will look to cut some costs and funnel extra resources into its more successful properties amid the transition. Just as news of the streaming merger broke, it emerged that Showtime has canceled American Gigolo and Let The Right One In (a series based on one of the best films of the last 20 years), while it's reportedly trying to offload a new show called Three Women.

“As a part of Paramount+, we can put more resources into building out the lanes that have made the Showtime brand famous, as well as turning our hit shows into global hit franchises," Chris McCarthy, president and CEO of Showtime and Paramount Media Networks, wrote in a staff memo. "To do this, we will divert investment away from areas that are underperforming and that account for less than 10 percent of our views.”

Aimi’s mobile app lets you remix its endless AI-generated beats

Ever found yourself turning down the radio so you can focus on finding a parking spot? Music didn’t stop you seeing, but it was taking up some tangible mental resources. But what if you had a way to immediately make the music more calming? Or to change that distracting string section? That, effectively, is the promise of Aimi’s interactive music player app. It won’t help you find a parking spot, though, you’re on your own with that.

If the name Aimi sounds familiar, that’s because its self-described “generative music platform” has been available online for a while. What’s new is the mobile app, launching in beta today with 5,000 slots open globally. The mobile experience takes the endless mood-based music feeds from the Aimi website and adds the option to tweak them to your heart’s content. It’s not a full-bore music making app, more of a tailored soundtrack for when you want a certain vibe, or as Aimi calls them: Experiences. The basic app will be free, but unlocking the majority of those controls will cost $10 a month.

The app offers experiences with names such as Serenity, Flow, Electronica and Push. Each gives a clear hint at what the vibe is and there are 10 of them at launch. The slowest, Serenity, starts at 64 BPM and they ratchet up to Push’s time-honored throb of 128 BPM.

As a listener, you could just open one of the experiences, tap play and go about your business. The idea being that if what the app serves you up isn’t quite what you wanted, you can mash the shuffle button and it’ll reconfigure the track with new sounds and energy. Or maybe you liked it, so there’s a thumbs-up option to tell it “more of this please.” That’s the most basic use case, which is also the extent of the free tier – but you can take it a few steps further with a subscription.

For premium users, once you have an experience playing, swiping left will give much more detailed control. The first screen shows a cluster of circles, each one labeled after a musical part (Beats, FX, Bass and so on). Hold down one of these circles and, as long as it’s active, it’ll solo just that part. If you tap a circle, you’ll enter a sub menu where you can adjust the volume of that part along with a shuffle option for just that element and more thumbs up/down.

If you swipe left one more time, you’ll find a selection of sliders which can vary from experience to experience, but tend to include “Intensity,” “Progression,” “Vocals” and “Texture.” It’s here that you can tell the app to do things like add a little intensity, mix things up more often or deliver more/less vocals. The changes are usually quite subtle - it’s more re-adjusting than remixing. These settings are remembered, too, so the next time you fire up that experience it’ll be to your taste. Or, at least the taste you had the last time you listened to it.

All the music on offer here is of the electronic variety. And despite the relatively wide range of BPMs, there’s definitely a thread that runs through them. That’s to say, this isn’t genre-hopping in the sense that you might want a Hip Hop vibe before moving over to some Indie and back to EDM. It’s more like being at a large House club with different areas with different BPMs along with a few well-stocked chill out rooms.

According to the company, the musical loops in Aimi are created by a pool of over 150 artists including some big names like Carl Cox. Once the loops are fed into the platform, AI takes over to match the pitch, BPM and general vibe. Theoretically, you have an endless radio station of music you can interact with, and the library is set to keep growing over time. Let’s hope that includes some other genres. Hip Hop and anything with a breakbeat would instantly provide a shot of different energy here, for example. Likewise, something on the more acoustic side of things would at least provide an option for those less into electronic music.

Generative music has seen an increase of interest in recent years as technology has developed enough to make it more fluid than just burping up clips that are in time and key. Mostly this has been focused on the headspace area, meditative apps, concentration soundtracks and so on. Aimi’s main rivals here would include Endel ($15 a month) and Brain.fm ($7 a month).

While Aimi does occupy this space too, its emphasis on interactivity with its mood-based streams sets it apart. In fact, Aimi CEO, Edward Balassanian, sees it as a gateway for the musically curious. “One of the strengths of generative music is that we can use it to attract casual listeners with continuous music experiences and then introduce them to interactive music by letting them take ownership of their music experience.” he told Engadget.

Three screenshots of the Aimi music app side by side.
Aimi

This hints at a broader plan. Right now there’s the linear player on Aimi.fm and the new interactive app launching today. In the future, there will also be Aimi Studio, which Balassanian says will be released this summer. “Once we get you hooked on interacting with music through our player, we want you to feel inspired to try making music using Aimi studio. Aimi studio will be offered in both basic and pro editions for everyone from aspiring amateurs to professionals.” he added.

I’m uncertain if this will appeal to users that use something like Note by Ableton or Maschine by Native Instruments. The actual amount of impact you can have on the music in Aimi is very limited as your effectively just giving nudges to the AI rather than being directly hands on. Likewise, the section of the app where you can solo parts isn’t immediate, this means if you were hoping to remix on the fly DJ-style by cutting the bass and beats before dropping them back in on the next phrase, it’s not really designed for that.

Likewise, sometimes you can find yourself distracted by the thing that’s meant to help you focus. When I tried the “Flow” stream, the first “idea” it presented was actually a bit irritating to me, so it served the opposite purpose. Of course, I could shuffle it to something more agreeable, but the irony of being taken out of the moment, even if just temporarily, was not wasted on me.

To that end, it’s hard to see where the interactive arm of Aimi excels, at least at launch. The genres, while varied, do overlap quite a bit. The control you have over the music is quite gentle in the scheme of things and feels more like fine-tuning than an actual creator tool. The core experience of listening to chill vibes is a great alternative to your tired Spotify playlist, but that part is free and has been available in some form for a while.

Balassanian says that even more experiences from more artists will be coming after launch and once the Studio app is released anyone will be able to make loops and upload them to the platform for users to enjoy. In the meantime, you can sign up for early beta access here and start configuring your own soundtrack today.

The latest ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ trailer pits Cat Mario against Donkey Kong

Over the weekend, Nintendo shared a surprise trailer for TheSuper Mario Bros. Movie. The 30-second clip shows additional footage from a scene that was first featured in the trailer Nintendo released last November. More importantly, it marks our first chance to hear Seth Rogen’s take on Donkey Kong. After Mario dons his cat suit, first introduced in 2013’s Super Mario 3D World, Rogen’s Donkey Kong starts laughing. “You got the cat box! I’m sorry,” the ape tells his one-time nemesis before turning serious. “Now you die.”

With Sunday’s trailer, Nintendo has now offered fans a chance to hear the entire ensemble cast of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, including Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser and Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach. Following the release of the film’s second trailer, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said Nintendo redesigned Donkey Kong's model for the first time since the ape made the jump to 3D in 1994’s Donkey Kong Country. The company went for a more comical design reminiscent of Donkey Kong's original character. The Super Mario Bros. Movie will arrive in theaters on April 7th.

Amazon is reportedly making a Tomb Raider TV series

Hollywood may be taking another stab at a Tomb Raider production, but this time for the small screen. The Hollywood Reportersources say Amazon is creating a Tomb Raider TV series for Prime Video, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of Fleabag fame) set to be an executive producer and write the script. It's not certain who would star, but we wouldn't count on movie stars Angelina Jolie or Alicia Vikander reprising the role of Lara Croft. The show is reportedly still in the development stage.

We've asked Amazon for comment. A collaboration like this wouldn't be surprising, at least. Amazon is publishing the next Tomb Raider game, and Waller-Bridge previously struck a three-year deal with Amazon that includes projects like the novel adaptation Sign Here. Sources for The Reporter claim Amazon was "aggressive" in pursuing a deal renewal late last year.

The rumor comes as game-based TV shows have their moment in the spotlight. HBO's The Last of Us has already been successful enough to get a second season. Sony, meanwhile, is prepping God of War, Gran Turismo and Horizon titles for Netflix and Prime Video. A Tomb Raider series would bolster Amazon's game-themed catalog and help it compete against rivals like Netflix, which already has hits like the League of Legends offshoot Arcane.

Amazon also hasn't been shy about chasing after potential blockbusters. The company reportedly spent $1 billion on The Lord of Rings: The Rings of Power, for instance. While a Tomb Raider show isn't likely to be as lavish, Waller-Bridge's involvement suggests Amazon is eager for a hit. Amazon struggled to breach the top streaming charts last year — this might give it better ammunition against Netflix successes like Stranger Things.

Amazon is reportedly making a Tomb Raider TV series

Hollywood may be taking another stab at a Tomb Raider production, but this time for the small screen. The Hollywood Reportersources say Amazon is creating a Tomb Raider TV series for Prime Video, with Phoebe Waller-Bridge (of Fleabag fame) set to be an executive producer and write the script. It's not certain who would star, but we wouldn't count on movie stars Angelina Jolie or Alicia Vikander reprising the role of Lara Croft. The show is reportedly still in the development stage.

We've asked Amazon for comment. A collaboration like this wouldn't be surprising, at least. Amazon is publishing the next Tomb Raider game, and Waller-Bridge previously struck a three-year deal with Amazon that includes projects like the novel adaptation Sign Here. Sources for The Reporter claim Amazon was "aggressive" in pursuing a deal renewal late last year.

The rumor comes as game-based TV shows have their moment in the spotlight. HBO's The Last of Us has already been successful enough to get a second season. Sony, meanwhile, is prepping God of War, Gran Turismo and Horizon titles for Netflix and Prime Video. A Tomb Raider series would bolster Amazon's game-themed catalog and help it compete against rivals like Netflix, which already has hits like the League of Legends offshoot Arcane.

Amazon also hasn't been shy about chasing after potential blockbusters. The company reportedly spent $1 billion on The Lord of Rings: The Rings of Power, for instance. While a Tomb Raider show isn't likely to be as lavish, Waller-Bridge's involvement suggests Amazon is eager for a hit. Amazon struggled to breach the top streaming charts last year — this might give it better ammunition against Netflix successes like Stranger Things.

Google AI can create music in any genre from a text description

Never mind ChatGPT — music might be the next big frontier for AI content generation. Google recently published research on MusicLM, a system that creates music in any genre with a text description. This isn't the first AI music generator. As TechCrunchnotes, projects like Google's AudioML and OpenAI's Jukebox have tackled the subject. However, MusicLM's model and vast training database (280,000 hours of music) help it produce music with surprising variety and depth. You might just like the output.

The AI can not only combine genres and instruments, but write tracks using abstract concepts that are normally difficult for computers to grasp. If you want a hybrid of dance music and reggaeton with a "spacey, otherworldly" tune that evokes a "sense of wonder and awe," MusicLM can make it happen. The technology can even craft melodies based on humming, whistling or the description of a painting. A story mode can stitch several descriptions together to produce a DJ set or soundtrack.

MusicLM has its problems, as with many AI generators. Some compositions sound strange, and vocals tend to be incomprehensible. And while the performances themselves are better than you'd expect, they can be repetitive in ways human works might not. Don't expect an EDM-style drop or the verse-chorus-verse pattern of a typical song.

Just don't plan on using the tech any time soon. As with other Google AI generators, the researchers aren't releasing MusicLM to the public over copyright concerns. Roughly one percent of the music produced at the time of publication was copied directly from the training songs. While questions regarding licensing for AI music haven't been settled, a 2021 whitepaper from Eric Sunray (now working for the Music Publishers Association) suggested that there's enough "coherent" traces of the original sounds that AI music can violate reproduction rights. You may have to get clearances to release AI-created songs, much like musicians who rely on samples.

AI already has a place in music. Artists like Holly Herndon and Arca have used algorithms to produce albums and museum soundtracks. However, those are either collaborative (as with Herndon) or intentionally unpredictable (like Arca's). MusicLM may not be ready for prime time, but it hints at a future where AI could play a larger role in the studio.

Google AI can create music in any genre from a text description

Never mind ChatGPT — music might be the next big frontier for AI content generation. Google recently published research on MusicLM, a system that creates music in any genre with a text description. This isn't the first AI music generator. As TechCrunchnotes, projects like Google's AudioML and OpenAI's Jukebox have tackled the subject. However, MusicLM's model and vast training database (280,000 hours of music) help it produce music with surprising variety and depth. You might just like the output.

The AI can not only combine genres and instruments, but write tracks using abstract concepts that are normally difficult for computers to grasp. If you want a hybrid of dance music and reggaeton with a "spacey, otherworldly" tune that evokes a "sense of wonder and awe," MusicLM can make it happen. The technology can even craft melodies based on humming, whistling or the description of a painting. A story mode can stitch several descriptions together to produce a DJ set or soundtrack.

MusicLM has its problems, as with many AI generators. Some compositions sound strange, and vocals tend to be incomprehensible. And while the performances themselves are better than you'd expect, they can be repetitive in ways human works might not. Don't expect an EDM-style drop or the verse-chorus-verse pattern of a typical song.

Just don't plan on using the tech any time soon. As with other Google AI generators, the researchers aren't releasing MusicLM to the public over copyright concerns. Roughly one percent of the music produced at the time of publication was copied directly from the training songs. While questions regarding licensing for AI music haven't been settled, a 2021 whitepaper from Eric Sunray (now working for the Music Publishers Association) suggested that there's enough "coherent" traces of the original sounds that AI music can violate reproduction rights. You may have to get clearances to release AI-created songs, much like musicians who rely on samples.

AI already has a place in music. Artists like Holly Herndon and Arca have used algorithms to produce albums and museum soundtracks. However, those are either collaborative (as with Herndon) or intentionally unpredictable (like Arca's). MusicLM may not be ready for prime time, but it hints at a future where AI could play a larger role in the studio.

HBO renews ‘The Last of Us’ for a second season

Get ready for more clickers, quips from Ellie and perhaps a trip to a decaying Seattle: HBO has renewed The Last of Us for a second season. That's not exactly a surprise, as the adaptation of Naughty Dog's games is already a huge hit for the network. Some 22 million people have now watched the first episode, five times the number of people who tuned in on the premiere night 12 days ago. The show also saw the largest second-week jump in audience figures of any original HBO drama series.

If you haven't caught The Last of Us yet and are curious what all the hullabaloo is about, there's some good news. You can now watch the first episode for free on HBO Max.

The streaming service often offers free tasters of certain shows in the hopes of getting viewers hooked and prompting them to subscribe. The first episode of Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon, another major success for the platform, is free to watch on both HBO Max and YouTube.

For the uninitiated, The Last of Us is based on a PlayStation 3 (and PS4 and PS5) game of the same name. It's often held up as one of the finest examples of storytelling in video games. It tales the tale of a smuggler who reluctantly escorts a teenage girl across the US after the world has been ravaged by a fungus that turns people into terrifying, mutated creatures.

So far, HBO's terrific adaptation has largely followed the same story with some smart deviations and changes. Critics have hailed the third episode, which airs this Sunday, as the best installment of the season. It focuses on a side story that's primarily told through a note players find in the game. 

HBO renews ‘The Last of Us’ for a second season

Get ready for more clickers, quips from Ellie and perhaps a trip to a decaying Seattle: HBO has renewed The Last of Us for a second season. That's not exactly a surprise, as the adaptation of Naughty Dog's games is already a huge hit for the network. Some 22 million people have now watched the first episode, five times the number of people who tuned in on the premiere night 12 days ago. The show also saw the largest second-week jump in audience figures of any original HBO drama series.

If you haven't caught The Last of Us yet and are curious what all the hullabaloo is about, there's some good news. You can now watch the first episode for free on HBO Max.

The streaming service often offers free tasters of certain shows in the hopes of getting viewers hooked and prompting them to subscribe. The first episode of Game of Thrones spin-off House of the Dragon, another major success for the platform, is free to watch on both HBO Max and YouTube.

For the uninitiated, The Last of Us is based on a PlayStation 3 (and PS4 and PS5) game of the same name. It's often held up as one of the finest examples of storytelling in video games. It tales the tale of a smuggler who reluctantly escorts a teenage girl across the US after the world has been ravaged by a fungus that turns people into terrifying, mutated creatures.

So far, HBO's terrific adaptation has largely followed the same story with some smart deviations and changes. Critics have hailed the third episode, which airs this Sunday, as the best installment of the season. It focuses on a side story that's primarily told through a note players find in the game.