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Latest Video Download Services & Hardware News - Page 15

post #421 of 577
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Sears Plans Film-Download Store in Challenge to Best Buy, Apple


Sears Holdings Corp., owner of the Sears and Kmart retail chains, will start an online store to compete with Apple Inc. and Best Buy Co. in selling downloads of movies and TV shows as Web-connected devices become more common.

The digital store will use an online service and technology operated by Sonic Solutions Inc., the companies said today in a statement. Sonic's RoxioNow system will be installed on televisions, computers, Blu-ray disc players, set-top boxes and mobile phones sold by the biggest U.S. department store chain.

With Sonic, the retailer will be able to offer a Sears- branded digital storefront and promote special programming and services across devices starting later this year. Best Buy already licenses Sonic software for the online movie store it operates, while Apple uses its own iTunes system.

Teaming up with Sonic is a great opportunity for Sears and Kmart to quickly establish a position in digital video entertainment, Karen Austin, president of home electronics for Hoffman Estates, Illinois-based Sears, said in the statement.

Sears joins a growing list of companies licensing Sonic technology, which lets users rent or buy films and TV shows for viewing on a number of products. Digital downloads are expected to eclipse packaged DVD and Blu-ray disc sales after 2015, said Bo Andersen, president of the Entertainment Merchants Association in Encino, California.

Competing Against Apple

Sonic's technology will be included on TVs and electronic products made by Samsung Electronics Co., LG Electronics Inc., Vizio Inc., HTC Corp. and Toshiba Corp.

The electronics makers will begin shipping products that connect to Sonic's service later this year, in time for U.S. holiday shopping, Mark Ely, the company's executive vice president for strategy, said in an interview. It is already on some Blu-ray players, mobile devices and set-top boxes.

Apple's iTunes store, which sells digital downloads of music, movies, TV programs and games, has withstood threats from other retailers. Netflix Inc. offers a subscription service for mail-order DVD rentals and streaming of mostly older releases, using its own software. Wal-Mart Stores Inc. acquired movie download service Vudu Inc. in February.

Sonic has licensed thousands of movies from the major Hollywood studios, according to Ely. The Novato, California- based company also provides technology for Blockbuster Inc.'s online store and TiVo Inc.'s digital-video recorders.

We're seeing more and more willingness among retailers and the content community to really make it all happen, Ely said. Consumers aren't going to get behind digital media commerce unless that media is broadly accessible and playable on a number of devices.

Movie Prices

Movies rentals will cost $2 to $5, Ely said. Films and TV shows will be priced at $2 to $20 for purchase.

Sears Chairman Edward Lampert has been trying to bolster profit and lure customers back to its stores in the U.S. and Canada. Sales declined almost 7 percent over the past year while revenue has increased for competitors such as Costco Wholesale Corp., Best Buy and Wal-Mart.
post #422 of 577
Thread Starter 
IEEE working group considers kinder, gentler DRM


People don't like DRM in large part because it removes much of their control over things like e-books, music, and movies. Want to loan a DRMed song to a friend? You probably can't, even though sharing a physical item like a CD remains trivial.

A new IEEE working group has an ambitious plan to change this and return control over "digital personal property" to consumers. DRM's electronic tethers would be cut, but rightsholders would not need to remove all limits on sharing. Instead, digital personal property enables the same sort of private sharing that is easily possible with physical objects while still preventing worldwide mass distribution.

Living in a material world
It sounds almost futile: making digital goods "rivalrous" (after being taken, someone else is deprived of their use) when copying is the basic activity of digital devices. But the IEEE P1817 working group has a plan to do exactly this.

Engineer Paul Sweazey has been the driving force behind the idea, which we profiled a year ago when the IEEE first consented to study the idea. A few weeks ago, the idea graduated to working group status; the group will hold its first meeting July 14 in Santa Clara, California.

The "digital personal property" idea involves two major pieces: a title folder and a playkey. The title folder contains the content in question, it's encrypted, and it can be copied and passed around freely. To access the content inside, however, you'll need the playkey, which is delivered to the buyer of a digital media file and lives within "tamper-protected circuit" inside some device (computer, cell phone, router) or online at a playkey bank account. Controlling the playkey means that you control the media, and you truly own it, since no part of the system needs to phone home, and it imposes no restrictions on copying (except for those that arise naturally from fear of loss).

The playkey, unlike the title folder, can't be copiedbut it can be moved. To give your friends and family access to the file in question, you can send them a copy but must also provide a link to the playkey. Under the DPP system, though, anyone who can access the playkey can also decide to move it to their own digital vaultin essence, anyone can take the content from you, and you would no longer have access to the media files in question if they did so.

According to the P1817 working group, this means that:

[P]roduct ownership is perpetual, and the tethers are severed that connect your purchases to their vendors. No one can restrict how you privately use or share them. However, because they are copyrighted, rightsholders retain the legal right to control public dissemination of their works. Just as a printed book can be lost if you share it publicly (i.e., with strangers), you must be careful to share only privately (i.e., with those you trust.) That's because anyone who shares either of your playkeys can take both of them and move them to his own device and his own online playkey bank! The availability and mobility of playkeys lets you electronically share, lend, borrow, give, take, donate, and resell digital property, just as you do with your physical possessions. And since playkeys remain singular, unique, and protected from counterfeiting, copyright holders know that your sharing will remain a private, non-public matter.

The entire system is predicated on the fear of loss; share with people you don't know, and at some point your playkey will probably be moved to someone else's control.

Making digital goods act like physical objects might sound like a bizarre step backward. Didn't we gain quite a lot with the shift to digital, non-rivalrous items? We certainly did, but Sweazey argues that a truly non-rivalrous system makes commerce too difficult, even impossible, and that we need to create ways for the digital world to mirror the constraints of the physical one.

If it sounds odd, consider that traditional DRM vendors have tried to do the same thing for more than a decade already. The digital personal property approach both removes tethers to corporate DRM servers and liberates sharing, and sounds like an effort to make DRM's basic approach palatable enough that it won't bother people.

Certainly, DRM alone has not proved enough to dissuade people from buying products, so long as it is remains out of their way most of the time; consider DVDs, Blu-ray discs, Apple's FairPlay, the Kindle's e-book DRM, console games, and Apple's App Store. If P1817 gets major support from vendors and rightsholders, it might prove acceptable to consumers, finally removing some of the ridiculous limitations on backups and format shifting that traditional DRM has eviscerated.

P1817 has a tough road ahead, and there's still something of the "cram the genie back in the bottle" to the whole approach. But those who want to make the scheme work are welcome at the group's meetings (PDF), which Sweazey sees as necessary "middle ground" in the DRM wars.

"I also understand that the Ars Technica readership leans heavily toward the 'all bits are free' direction," Sweazey noted in an e-mail, "but for us they provide a balance to the DRM defenders who think that 'the beatings should continue until morality improves.' There is a middle ground, and someone needs to enable it. We're volunteering."

Website: http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1817/

Tech Description: http://grouper.ieee.org/groups/1817/...iption_095.pdf

IEEE P1817TM vs. DECE:

Group Seeks to Set Standard for Consumer-Ownable Digital Property


Do you really "own" that song you bought on iTunes? Have you ever even thought about it? Chances are, if you have ever considered digital property at all, it's been in terms of piracy and intellectual property-or, in short, from the creator's perspective. But as ebooks take off, actual CDs go the way of the dodo, and we spend more money on digital products of all kinds, tricky issues surrounding digital rights management-or the lack thereof-abound and one group is trying to do something about it. The Working Group developing IEEE P1817TM, a new Standard for Consumer-Ownable Digital Personal Property, is currently being formed. It will hold its first meeting July 14, at Huawei North America Headquarters in Santa Clara, Calif.

"What if physical goods couldn't be owned?" asks Paul Sweazey, chair of the P1817 Working Group. "The world would be in chaos."

Think about it like this: if you bought a CD at the store, got it home and realized you could only play it on a Sony CD player you would be very confused, and probably demand your money back. Yet, until Apple changed its DRM policies recently, songs bought through the iTunes store could only be played on an iPod-not on your Sansa or other MP3 player. Sweazey explains: DRM emulates unownable services (e.g., rental, subscription); plain files emulate unownable public goods; P1817 emulates ownable private goods. He adds, "It's silly not to have ownable digital goods, and it's easier and simpler than DRM to create. It's just that it must be an open, global standard, so the IEEE is doing it."

"This is interesting to me because it speaks to the complexity and the breadth of the device landscape," says Ned May, director and lead analyst at Outsell, Inc. "There are definitely standards that have emerged [like MP3s]. It's a mix of organic and market driven evolution, but this is a lot more complex... This is multiple forms of media across all different kinds of industries."

Of course, the IEEE Standard Association is not the only group that has noticed the DRM problem and tried to do something about it. The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) says it is developing "an exciting new way to buy, access, and play digital entertainment." As Jef Pearlman pointed out in a Jan. 15, 2010, post on Publicknowledge.org, DECE has a few problems of its own. The "buy once, play anywhere" model DECE promotes already exists in DRM-free products. More importantly, "anywhere" really means "anywhere that is DECE approved." In essence, it's just a different kind of rights management.

"DECE is a great project, aimed at erasing as many of the barriers as possible to giving consumers that ownership feeling and sense," says Sweazey. "It will not, however, give consumers actual ownership of products." The IEEE standard would aim to allow owners of digital products to share them the same way you would the equivalent physical product with a friend or family member, without allowing the "stranger sharing" often regarded as piracy.

"The number one challenge will be to educate that P1817 isn't building a content protection system; rather, it is creating the digital equivalent of private goods-ownable personal property," says Sweazey. "Most of the conflicts between consumers and suppliers exist because they think that they own what they buy, but this isn't yet true for digital products. Consumers are continually surprised and dismayed by this."

Many consumers, however, will not see the difference between simply buying a DRM-free product, and one that meets the still non-existent IEEE standard. More to the point, they may not see how it benefits them. "For the purposes of P1817, we are using the consumer notion of ownership as our guide," Sweazey says, "meaning that we are working toward what human beings mean when they say they own something, summarized by, If I own it, then it's nobody's business what I do with it.'"

Buyers, though, already have that in DRM-free files, like songs ripped from a CD, or a copy made by a friend. So what's in it for them? According to Sweazey, "The only thing that I know that you can't do with a P1817 product and that you can to with a plain file is to share it with strangers. And even that isn't blocked, it's just that the certain consequence is that some stranger will steal from you."

At the moment, though, the Working Group developing IEEE P1817TM consists largely of lawyers, rather than engineers, and the organization is looking for more input. "The technology aspects of the P1817 project are straightforward, and it's mostly a matter of selecting and assembling the constituent algorithms and protocols appropriate for an open, global standard," says Sweazey. With the first meeting scheduled for July, it will no doubt be some time before there is an actual standard, and even longer still until we see if it is at all effective or enforceable. Even Sweazey is not sure what the true outcome will be: "It could be simple and weak: Companies advertise that they conform to the standard, and hopefully they do. It could be formal and strong: The IEEE and others could lobby governments for legal protections of digital personal property... It could be something in between: a compliance and robustness regime established by a consortium of companies."

"The market leader never calls for open standards," says May. In other words, Apple is not out there looking for a standard regarding consumer-ownable digital products. And if the big guys in the digital product space-like Apple or Amazon-don't sign on, it's hard to say if the standard has a chance of making a real difference. May adds, "There needs to be an incentive to adopt it."

Sweazey says, "In the end, the solution to rational, peaceful, global commerce in downloadable digital products will involve the evolution of copyright law so that it properly discerns between the copying of bits and the counterfeiting of products. Before that can occur, the technology for that discernment must first exist. The first mission of P1817 is to standardize the discerning technology."
post #423 of 577
Thread Starter 
Sony's PlayStation Network Said Close to Deal for Hulu Service


Sony Corp. is close to an agreement to carry a paid TV service from Hulu LLC, operator of the second-largest video website, on its PlayStation 3 game console, two people with knowledge of the talks said.

The partnership could be announced as soon as next week, according to the people, who asked not to be identified because the arrangement hasn't been made public.

Access to video-game consoles would give Hulu's planned pay service a bigger audience and more revenue by making its Internet programming more widely available on television sets. Hulu also is in talks with CBS Corp., Viacom Inc. and Time Warner Inc. to add their TV shows to the website's subscription service, people with direct knowledge of the discussions said.

PlayStation 3 owners registered for the console's free Web service, the PlayStation Network, would be able to subscribe to a Hulu service that provides on-demand access to current and past seasons of prime-time TV shows from NBC, Fox and ABC, the people said. Hulu also is in talks to put its $9.95 a month service on Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox, Reuters reported previously.

Patrick Seybold, a spokesman for Sony's PlayStation Network in Foster City, California, declined to comment on a possible agreement, as did Christina Lee, a spokeswoman for closely held Hulu. Worldwide, the PlayStation Network has 50 million registered users, Seybold said in an e-mail.

Sony fell 1.2 percent to 2,462 yen as of 10:52 a.m. on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. The shares of the world's third-largest TV maker have declined 7.8 percent this year.

Founders, Investors

Hulu, based in Los Angeles, was founded by General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal and News Corp.'s Fox. Walt Disney Co.'s ABC and private-equity firm Providence Equity Partners Inc. are also investors in the website.

The site, which now lets computer users watch shows for free and gets its revenue from advertising, is seeking to expand the ways users can view programming, as well as add new shows to attract paying subscribers. The company will need to renew program rights from owners including NBC at the end of 2011, according to Laura Martin, a Needham & Co. analyst. The network investors also offer shows on their own websites.

A subscription would put Hulu in more direct competition with Netflix Inc., which supplies online and mail-order access to movies and past-season TV shows starting at $8.99 a month. Netflix already provides its online movie service on consoles from Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo Co., as well as through Blu- Ray players and Roku Inc. devices that connect TVs to the Web.

Hulu Chief Executive Officer Jason Kilar has said his site's ad-supported model is profitable on a cash-flow basis.

The website garnered $52.4 million in sales in February, with 72 percent going to the content owners, according to estimates from research firm SNL Kagan. That left Hulu with $14.7 million in revenue, $12.6 million in costs and a $2.04 million profit, SNL Kagan calculates.
post #424 of 577
Thread Starter 
Hulu unveils $10 premium service


NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Internet TV website Hulu on Tuesday unveiled a premium, subscription-based service that will be available on the iPhone, iPad, and some other devices in addition to the Web.

The new service, called Hulu Plus, will cost $10 per month. It is in limited release now, but users can go to Hulu's website to request an invitation to subscribe. The company said Hulu Plus would be opened to the general public in the coming months.

A subscription service for the popular site has long been the subject of rumors. The standard Hulu service is free, but it is not supported on mobile phones or Internet-connected devices like video game consoles, Blu-ray players or even certain HDTVs.

Hulu Plus will be compatible with a host of new devices, plus Apple's popular iPhone and iPad. It will eventually work with Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PlayStation 3, Samsung Internet-ready HDTVs and Blu-ray players manufactured by Samsung, Sony and Vizio, the company said on its website. It will also be available online.

Hulu is a service co-owned by Fox parent company News Corp (NWS, Fortune 500)., ABC parent Disney (DIS, Fortune 500) and NBC parent General Electric (GE, Fortune 500). The site shows certain content from those three networks and some movies for free.

The free site generally allows viewers to watch just a handful of episodes from a show before it begins removing them. But Hulu Plus will allow subscribers to view the entire current season's episodes of Fox, ABC and NBC shows. It will also show all of the past seasons of many hit shows like the "X Files," "The Office" and "Grey's Anatomy."

Most of the content on Hulu Plus will be delivered in high definition.

Hulu has more than quadrupled its viewership in the past year. U.S. viewers watched nearly 1.2 billion free TV programs or movies on Hulu in May, up from about 250 million a year earlier, comScore said. That's 27 videos per viewer, up from under 15 videos last year.

What's more telling is how much Hulu people watch. Viewers tuned into Hulu for an average of 2.7 hours in May, up a full hour from a year earlier.

Analysts had long predicted that Hulu's rampant success would lead it to try its hand at a subscription-based service, as subscription services like Netflix (NFLX) enjoy huge gains in both customers and revenue. It appears for now that the company will continue to offer Hulu for free in addition to Hulu Plus.

"Hulu Plus is not a replacement for Hulu -- it's something new," the company said on its website.
post #425 of 577
Thread Starter 
What's bigger than 1080p? 4K video comes to YouTube


Today at the VidCon 2010 conference, we announced support for videos shot in 4K (a reference resolution of 4096 x 3072), meaning that now we support original video resolution from 360p all the way up to 4096p. To give some perspective on the size of 4K, the ideal screen size for a 4K video is 25 feet; IMAX movies are projected through two 2k resolution projectors.

We always want videos on YouTube to be available in the highest quality possible, as creators intend. In December of last year, we announced support for 1080p, or full HD. At 4096 x 3072 pixels, 4K is nearly four times the size of 1080p. To view any video in a source resolution greater than 1080p, select "Original" in the video quality pulldown menu:

To illustrate the power of 4K, please check out the videos in this playlist; each one was created by a filmmaker with access to a 4K camera. (Be warned: watching videos in 4K, even on YouTube, will require ultra-fast high-speed broadband connections).

Because 4K represents the highest quality of video available, there are a few limitations that you should be aware of. First off, video cameras that shoot in 4K aren’t cheap, and projectors that show videos in 4K are typically the size of a small refrigerator. And, as we mentioned, watching these videos on YouTube will require super-fast broadband.

We're excited about this latest step in the evolution of online video. We've been impressed by the 1080p videos you've uploaded over the last seven months and can't wait to see (in 4K!) what you do next.

4K Video Playlist
post #426 of 577
Well at least the 4K videos download a little faster than the 1080P ones. For 1080P it never seems to go above 20mbs for me. For the 4K videos they didn't go above 32mbs for me.
post #427 of 577
Thread Starter 
Widevine to Provide the Ultimate Internet TV and Movie Experience With Support for Dolby Digital Plus Surround Sound


Widevine's Video Technologies Now Supports Dolby Digital Plus to Enable the Highest-Quality Audio and Video Experience on the Internet

SEATTLE, WA--(Marketwire - July 12, 2010) - Widevine, a provider of digital entertainment solutions, announced today support for Dolby® Digital Plus in its video optimization and digital rights management (DRM) platform to bring the movie theater-like experience directly to the living room via the Internet.

Dolby Digital Plus is a versatile, scalable digital audio coding technology that extends the capabilities of Dolby Digital, delivering up to 7.1 channels of surround sound. It supports a wide range of bit rates to ensure optimized sound quality and efficiency to match available bandwidth. It also enables advanced applications such as multiple-program support and audio stream mixing.

"Dolby Digital Plus enables video providers to deliver a richer, more immersing audio experience over the Internet," said John Griffin, Senior Director, Dolby Laboratories. "By supporting Dolby Digital Plus in its video optimization solution, Widevine can offer outstanding audio along with high-quality video to deliver cinema-like experiences for the home."

Widevine's video optimization platform includes adaptive streaming and virtual DVD features such as trick play and chaptering, creating a DVD-like viewing experience on content delivered over the Internet. The solution is natively supported in nearly all major brands and types of network-connected consumer electronics including televisions, Blu-ray players, mobile devices, gaming systems, and more. Widevine's technologies have been adopted by content providers and service operators across all industries, including large cable, satellite and telecommunication companies launching TV Everywhere solutions.

"More and more consumers are turning to the Internet for entertainment," said Brian Baker, CEO of Widevine. "By combining our video optimization technology with support for Dolby's audio technology, video providers can be assured that their customers will have the best experience possible on digital media delivered over the Internet."
post #428 of 577
Thread Starter 
Panasonic Adding Movie VOD Transactions To Its Connected TVs


The connected-TV space is about to unleash whole new opportunities for video content owners to distribute and profit from their content.

In one of the latest examples, Panasonic is adding a third-party movie vendor, AceTrax, to VieraCast, the connected-TV interface on its TVs and Blu-ray players, in Europe.

Zurich-based AceTrax claims a library of over 2,000 titles from WB, Universal, Paramount and smaller studios and aggregators. Viewers can watch them on up to four different devices, including computers, using a PIN to identify each.

The service will be available on Panasonic TVs in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Italy.

AceTrax and Panasonic are making a point of pitching their offering against movies from Sky Movies and Virgin Media (NSDQ: VMED), which require a set-top box, and from the movie rental service LoveFilm, which operates via subscription. AceTrax offers both rentals (£1.49-£3.49) and pay-to-own (£4.99-£11.99) on an a la carte basis, direct to the TVs. Titles are DVD- but not HD-quality.

AceTrax says it has similar deals with other home electronics makers which it will be announcing later in the year.

The likes of Sky Movies will likely need to talk with home electronics makers about carrying their own services on new gadgets, lest their historical advantage be crowded out. LoveFilm had been interested in getting carriage on the BBC-led Project Canvas connected-TV platform, which will offer transactional internet services over broadband.
post #429 of 577
Thread Starter 
Netflix June Traffic Growth Off the Charts'


Netflix traffic growth is off the charts, according to a Citi research report citing comScore data. Due mainly to the immense takeup of the company's Watch Instantly streaming video service, the number of visitors to the Netflix website spiked 46 percent year-over-year in June, which is the fastest year-over-year growth Citi analyst Mark Mahaney says he has seen in more than five years. For the second quarter, Netflix's web traffic was up 34 percent year-over-year, which is an acceleration over 19 percent growth year-over-year that the subscription rental firm saw in the first quarter.

The massive traffic growth comes as Netflix has seen its online streaming service take off, driving more users to begin watching its videos through their TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles and other connected devices. Interest in Netflix streaming has also led a dramatic increase in subscribers over the last year; the subscription rental firm added 1.7 million new subscribers in the first quarter, ending the period with 14 million customers. That represents an increase of 35 percent over the 10.3 million subscribers it had a year earlier.

That growth will no doubt continue, especially as Netflix adds more exclusive content and more consumer electronics devices that subscribers can view the streaming service on. The company recently struck a deal for exclusive, first-run access to feature films from Hollywood production and co-financing firm Relativity Media. In addition, Netflix introduced an app for the Apple iPad at the tablet's launch, and unveiled plans for an iPhone app coming soon. Altogether, Netflix expects to be on more than 100 consumer electronics devices by the end of the year.
post #430 of 577
Thread Starter 
Netflix Set to Stream Movies and TV Episodes in Canada Later This Year


Netflix, the online Internet movie subscription service, is coming to Canada.

Beginning this fall, the portal will offer unlimited streaming movies and TV episodes, delivered to a user's TV or pesonal computer. Other digital media devices, capable of streaming from Netflix, can be used, and the company reports it is planning an iPhone compatible release this summer.

In April 2010, the Netflix application debuted on the Apple's iTunes app store for use with the iPad. Netflix has launched an Application Programming Interface, allowing developers to release Netflix applications for portable digital media devices including one for the Android platform and for Nokia handsets.

The new Canadian site will mark the first availability of Netflix outside the United States, and Canada will also mark the first streaming-only service promoted by Netflix.

At the time of launch, the Netflix Canadian service will be available in English only, but the company says it expects to add French language capability over time.

For a fixed monthly fee, Netflix members can watch unlimited TV episodes and movies streamed to their TVs and computers, but it appears the company will not offer its mail order movie subscription service here.

Among the large and expanding base of U.S. devices that can stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix right to members' TVs are Microsoft's Xbox 360, Sony's PS3 and Nintendo's Wii consoles; Blu-ray disc players from Samsung, LG and Insignia; Internet TVs from LG, Sony and VIZIO; the Roku digital video player and TiVo digital video recorders, and Apple's iPad tablet.
post #431 of 577
Thread Starter 
Redbox Plots Web Strategy in Challenge to Netflix


uly 19 (Bloomberg) -- Redbox, which became the fastest- growing U.S. video retailer with DVD kiosks and a $1-a-day rental price stores couldn't match, is developing an online strategy to stay competitive with larger rival Netflix Inc.

The company, the biggest division of Coinstar Inc., may use a Web service to expand its library beyond the 200 or so titles crammed into each of its 24,000 or so DVD dispensers, President Mitch Lowe said in an interview from Redbox's headquarters in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois.

The way we look at it is, How can it help us deliver to our customers things we can't do in our kiosks? Lowe said. What role might it play in expanding our selection?

The approach Redbox outlines in October will be designed to narrow the gap with Netflix, which offers more than 100,000 titles by mail and 20,000 older films online. It may also help the company take more business from Blockbuster Inc., which is closing stores and recently skipped a debt payment.

It's absolutely imperative for them to have a digital story, said Ralph Schackart, a New York-based analyst with Wiliam Blair & Co. The question is, what will it look like?

The transition won't be easy. Redbox may look to a technology company such as Sonic Solutions Inc. to obtain know- how, said Schackart, who expects shares of Bellevue, Washington- based Coinstar to perform in line with the broader market over the next 12 months.

Online Imperative

Convenience and a low price have created a winning formula for Redbox, which lets shoppers rent discs by swiping a credit or debit card. Sales from dispensers located in and outside of grocery and convenience stores surged 70 percent in the first quarter. Technicians in Redbox's offices monitor the machines, which hold multiple copies of films and up to 630 DVDs, for jams and other troubles, making sure people don't leave angry.

At the same time, rivals led by Netflix are attracting millions of Web customers with larger selections and cutting out the need for stores.

Redbox is losing some business as renters use kiosks to get new releases and go to Netflix for older, harder-to-find titles, said Lowe, who left Netflix in 2002. His former employer, based in Los Gatos, California, increased first-quarter sales by 25 percent with its $8.99-a-month subscription for mail-order rentals and unlimited Web viewing.

Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesman, declined to comment on Redbox's plans. More than half of the company's 14 million customers used the Web to watch films on TVs or other devices.

Long before we had streaming we had a loved brand and we turned it into an even more loved brand with streaming with no additional cost, Swasey said.

Save Time, Money

Redbox also faces competition from Apple Inc. and Best Buy Co., which sell movie downloads. Wal-Mart Stores Inc., the world's largest retailer, bought the Vudu Inc. online entertainment service in February and Sears Holdings Corp., the largest department store owner, said on June 22 it plans to sell and rent movies online through an agreement with Sonic.

An accord with Novato, California-based Sonic would spare Redbox the time and cost of negotiating Web rights with studios, Schackart said. Sonic technology is already in DVD players and TVs, and the company has rights to thousands of movies.

Sonic gives Redbox a digital olive branch with the studios, Schackart said.

Sonic provides technology and a library of about 20,000 movie titles to clients including Best Buy and Sears, Chris Taylor, a company spokesman, said in an interview. He declined to say whether Sonic is in talks with Coinstar, which also won't comment on the matter.

Legal Battles Ended

Redbox ended legal battles this year with three studios, News Corp.'s Fox, General Electric Co.'s NBC Universal and Time Warner Inc.'s Warner Bros., over access to DVDs. The studios agreed to sell discs to Redbox for rental after the movies had been in stores for 28 days.

Walt Disney Co., Viacom Inc.'s Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Lions Gate Entertainment Corp. let Redbox offer DVDs when they become available for sale in stores.

While North American DVD purchases tumbled the past three years, rentals are expanding and are projected to rise at an average rate of 2.7 percent to $9.97 billion by 2014, helped by higher-priced Blu-ray discs, Matthew Lieberman, an analyst with PricewaterhouseCoopers, said in an interview.

The growth means Redbox will continue to attract consumers, Lowe said.

Redbox, and its $1-a-night price, began in 2002 as a test by McDonald's Corp. to lure diners into restaurants, according to the Redbox website. Coinstar invested three years later and bought out McDonald's in 2009.

post #432 of 577
Thread Starter 
DECE unveils UltraViolet


Digital locker to roll out later this year

Just when consumers have gotten used to Blu-ray, they're about to be introduced to a new entertainment brand: UltraViolet.

That's the name the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE), a consortium of the major studios, retailers, cable operators, hardware manufacturers and rental services, have decided on to represent an online content locker that will initially store and play movies and TV shows on a variety of devices.

The UltraViolet name and associated cube-shaped purple and black logo will begin appearing on various packaging and websites over the next several months.

Although the digital locker won't officially roll out until later this year -- no official date has yet been given -- DECE wanted consumers to become familiar with the UltraViolet name so that retailers could start educating them on the service's capabilities.

"Our goal is to firmly establish UltraViolet as the symbol for digital entertainment -- one that gives consumers the freedom of access wherever they are, the confidence of knowing how it will work and the most choice of content, stores and devices," said Mitch Singer, DECE president and chief technology officer of Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Yet UltraViolet could become a much trickier sell than Blu-ray, given the fact that it won't represent anything physical at all.

Instead, the name will serve as the free online account where consumers access and manage entertainment they've purchased. The website will display the digital rights locker and films from every retailer that supports UltraViolet and DECE's single file format and allow the titles to be played on any hardware, including web-connected TVs, cable set-top boxes, computers, videogame consoles and smartphones.

DECE is made up of 55 members, which pretty much covers most major entertainment suppliers and device manufacturers, with the exception of Disney and Apple, which are developing their own similar digital locker branded as KeyChest for now.

DECE's technology also was designed to store music, books and games, and could eventually serve as a way for consumers to upload Blu-ray movies they already own.

And while it will launch with purchases, the open system is adaptable for video-on-demand and subscription-based rental services from companies such as Netflix, as well.

The entertainment biz has recently been making more aggressive moves toward this way of managing entertainment, believing that a single file format and one place to store and access it, no matter which retailer sold the content, will boost sales of home entertainment overall.

"We believe that UltraViolet will provide consumers with an easy-to-use way to buy and watch digital entertainment across multiple devices," said Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. "Making interoperability possible meets a key consumer need and fundamentally improves the digital video experience. With UltraViolet, consumers will be able to purchase a title once and enjoy it anywhere and anytime they wish."

Until now, digital entertainment has been distributed using a variety of formats, creating headaches for both hardware makers and consumers trying to manage and play the files. One common file format is expected to reduce backend technology costs for companies, as well.

DECE's members found that the various formats actually turned many consumers away from making more online purchases.

"Digital distribution was broken," Singer said. "People weren't buying as much anymore. We said, 'What would it look like if we started from scratch?'"

DECE will start working with retailers and service providers on the technological aspects of UltraViolet over the next several months and begin beta testing the rest of the year before it's eventual launch.

DECE will continue as a consortium, but UltraViolet will serve as the consumer brand. It operates on a cost-recovery basis and is not seeking to generate profits from the retail transactions.

The organization hired Lexicon, a brand-name firm, to come up with a number of name suggestions before UltraViolet was finally chosen. The firm was also behind Pentium, BlackBerry and Swiffer. It helped that UltraViolet's association with light pairs up well with the Blu-ray brand.

And with Hollywood looking for a bright light to reverse a dark downturn in homevideo sales over the last several years, the UltraViolet name couldn't be more fitting.
post #433 of 577
Thread Starter 
UltraViolet Press Release:

Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem Unveils UltraViolet™ Brand


LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem LLC (DECE LLC), a cross-industry consortium dedicated to driving a new, open market for digital content distribution, today announced its consumer brand – UltraViolet™ – and logo (www.uvvu.com). UltraViolet represents a new way for consumers to have greater choice, confidence and freedom in how, when and where they enjoy digital movies, TV shows and other entertainment. In addition, the consortium announced three additional new members bringing the total to nearly 60 member companies.

Complementing the physical DVD and Blu-ray home entertainment markets, UltraViolet will allow consumers to watch their digital entertainment across multiple platforms, such as connected TVs, PCs, game consoles, smartphones and tablet PCs, in an easy, consistent way. Since all UltraViolet offerings will work together, consumers will be able to select which products and devices they prefer from a spectrum of familiar companies – ranging from major studios to consumer electronics companies to cable, web and other service providers. In addition, the UltraViolet name and logo will help identify entertainment products and services designed to work together seamlessly.

“The introduction of the UltraViolet brand is another important step towards the consumer launch of UltraViolet products and services,” said Mitch Singer, DECE president and CTO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. “Our goal is to firmly establish UltraViolet as the symbol for digital entertainment – one that gives consumers the freedom of access wherever they are, the confidence of knowing how it will work and the broadest choice of content, stores and devices.”

The UltraViolet experience will be powered by a cloud-based UltraViolet Account, which will include a Digital Rights Locker and account management functionality. Consumers will be able to create an UltraViolet Account, free of charge, via one of the many participating UltraViolet service providers or through the UltraViolet website. Once created, this Account will allow consumers to easily access and manage all of their UltraViolet entertainment, regardless of where it was purchased.

Technical specifications and licensing details for companies who wish to offer UltraViolet content, services and devices, are expected this year.

DECE also announced the addition of LG Electronics, LOVEFiLM and Marvell Semiconductor, Inc. to the consortium. These companies join DECE’s already strong group which include world leaders across a wide range of industries.

About Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) LLC

The Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) LLC is a cross-industry initiative developing the next generation digital media experience based on open, licensable specifications and designed to create a viable, global digital marketplace. The DECE is currently made up of Adobe, Alcatel-Lucent, Ascent Media Group, Best Buy, Blueprint Digital, BT, CableLabs, Catch Media, Cineplex Entertainment, Cisco, Comcast, Cox Communications, CSG Systems’ Content Direct, Deluxe Digital, DivX, Dolby Laboratories, DTS, ExtendMedia, Fox Entertainment Group, HP, Huawei, IBM, Intel, Irdeto, LG Electronics, Liberty Global, Lionsgate, LOVEFiLM, Marvell Semiconductor, Inc., Microsoft, MOD Systems, Motorola, Movie Labs, Nagravision, NBC Universal, NDS, Netflix, Neustar, Nokia, Panasonic, Paramount Pictures, Philips, Red Bee Media, RIAA, Rovi, Roxio CinemaNow, Samsung Electronics, Secure Path, Sony, SwitchNAP, Tesco, Thomson, Toshiba, Verimatrix, VeriSign, Warner Bros. Entertainment, Widevine Technologies Inc. and Zoran. DECE’s new digital media specifications, logo program and interoperable digital rights locker will enable consumers to purchase digital video content from a choice of online retailers and play it on a variety of devices and platforms from different manufacturers.

What DECE member companies are saying about UltraViolet:


“Adobe is pleased to participate in the introduction of the UltraViolet brand and support the creation of a seamless consumer experience around premium digital content. DECE’s adoption of Adobe Flash Access ensures that content providers can rely on the Flash Platform for secure distribution and playback of UltraViolet content. While this enables new revenue streams for all participants, the ultimate winner is the consumer who gains access to a seamless entertainment experience.” – Florian Pestoni, principal product manager for Rich Media Solutions at Adobe


“We are proud to be a founding member of DECE and are committed to educating consumers about the ever-changing world of digital entertainment. By bringing forward the Ultraviolet brand, we will continue to advocate choice in how and where consumers choose to view their content in addition to instilling confidence in an easy-to-access system compatible across a wide array of devices.” – Chris Homeister, senior vice president and general manager, home entertainment group for Best Buy


“We believe UltraViolet will provide a tremendous opportunity for even more choice and control by giving consumers the ability to view content from anywhere on many devices,” said Mark Coblitz, senior vice president of Strategic Development for Comcast Corporation. “There is no other offering that affords such an open platform to deliver the wealth of digital entertainment choices.”


“Intel is pleased to contribute to the development of the exciting new UltraViolet ™ digital media experience. UltraViolet will bring consumers a new level of choice and confidence with the freedom to enjoy their media on all of their family’s devices, including PCs, smart phones, netbooks, tablets, game consoles, and connected TVs, regardless of where it was purchased,” noted Jeff Lawrence, Intel director of Global Content Policy.


“Microsoft is committed to working towards digital entertainment solutions that delight consumers. As a founding member of DECE, Microsoft is furthering that goal by enabling consumer choice and confidence in digital entertainment,” said Blair Westlake, corporate vice president of the Media & Entertainment Group of Microsoft Corporation. “UltraViolet is designed to provide consumers with greater options and ease-of-use for digital entertainment, which it delivers by bringing innovation and efficiency to the entertainment industry.”


“UltraViolet’s™ ‘Digital Locker’ will be intuitive and incredibly easy-to-use, and Neustar is delighted – and well-suited – to be developing the UltraViolet digital media experience,” said Tim Dodd, vice president of Media and Entertainment for Neustar. “There is a great deal of complexity that underlies the brand’s revolutionary promise of openness and interoperability, and Neustar is fully committed to bringing this promise to fruition for the benefit of all digital media consumers.”


“Sonic’s extensive involvement in DECE and our contributions in helping bring UltraViolet to market are a vital component of supporting our retail partners’ digital businesses,” said Dave Habiger, President and CEO, Sonic Solutions. “We will continue to align our RoxioNow platform with DECE and prepare for early implementation of UltraViolet specifications to help take digital delivery mainstream and meet consumers’ expectations for convenience, ease, and flexibility.”


"UltraViolet marks the beginning of a new era for consumers to access and engage with their entertainment across a variety of devices. Through the advent of a digital locker, UltraViolet provides a new perspective on the value of collecting both physical and digital media." – David Bishop, president, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.


“We believe that UltraViolet will provide consumers with an easy-to-use way to buy and watch digital entertainment across multiple devices,” said Thomas Gewecke, president of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution. “Making interoperability possible meets a key consumer need, and fundamentally improves the digital video experience. With UltraViolet, consumers will be able to purchase a title once, and enjoy it anywhere and anytime they wish.”

post #434 of 577
Thread Starter 
New Netflix Streams Are Child's Play

Hey parents you may no longer have to shell out money for DVDs to keep your kids entertained, as long as you have a Netflix subscription. By adding a wealth of childrens' content to its instant streaming service, the subscription video company is going after the next generation of online video viewers today, with new streaming titles from Nickelodeon, PBS and Disney.

Just by clicking on its New TV Shows selection, instant streaming users will see that Netflix's addition of new streaming titles clearly meant to appeal to younger audiences. The section includes a vast collection of kid-friendly titles, including PBS' Barney, Kipper and Thomas & Friends, as well as Nickelodeon's Blues Clues, Wonder Pets, Dora the Explorer, Spongebob Squarepants, Fairly Odd Parents, Hey Arnold! and Drake & Josh. For slightly older kids, the new titles also include Disney's Hannah Montana and Jonas L.A..

Adding kid-friendly titles will be a boon to parents, especially to those who have Netflix streaming content available in the living room through connected TVs, Blu-ray players, game consoles or broadband set-top boxes. Those parents will no longer be subject to the whims of PBS or Nickelodeon's scheduling, or have to purchase DVDs of their kids' favorite TV shows to keep them happy.

The addition of kids' content is also a coup for Netflix, which is trying to differentiate itself from a recently announced subscription service from Hulu Plus, which like Netflix, aims to make TV content availability on PCs and connected devices for a low monthly subscription fee. But while Hulu's service is limited mostly to content from its broadcast TV parents and content partners, Netflix has been writing checks to license cable TV programming.

On the company's earnings call, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings admitted that he saw Hulu as a direct competitor. And in his management commentary of second-quarter results, Hastings said that the company would add a mix of exclusive and non-exclusive TV content to bolster interest in the streaming service, in a move that seems to be aimed at countering the emerging threat from Hulu.
post #435 of 577
Thread Starter 
NCR at Kiosk Crossroads?

With nearly two-thirds of its planned 10,000 Blockbuster Express rental kiosks allocated, NCR Corp. appears uncertain whether to increase the install base or focus on alternative distribution channels for home entertainment.

Duluth, Ga.-based NCR is funding the rollout and fulfillment (acquisition of DVD titles) for Express kiosks through a license deal with Dallas-based Blockbuster.

During a financial call with investors last week, CEO Bill Nuti said he would not look beyond implementation of the remaining 3,500 Express kiosks nationwide as to whether the company would increase its involvement in DVD rental kiosks or related entertainment.

“The hurdle rates get higher over time from our perspective because we do feel strongly that other channels to market going forward might be better investments for the company,” Nuti said. “But we’re not going to make that determination until we get towards the end this year. Right now, we’ve got to get 10,000 done and 10,000 put in the right places.”

Indeed, NCR is deploying 100 to 200 Express kiosks on a weekly basis, with an emphasis on retail location rather than market penetration. Industry leader Redbox has deployed more than 22,000 kiosks with plans to deploy another 3,000 units.

“If we wanted to, we could ramp up faster, but right now it’s about making smart choices on deployment,” Nuti said.

In the quarter, NCR rolled out Express kiosks — many replacing non-renewed Redbox units — at more than 300 Kwik Trip convenience stores in the Midwest, 105 Tom Thumb and Randalls locations in Texas, 80 Xtra Mart stores in the Northeast and 100 Mapco Express locations in the South.

NCR said it expects to generate pre-tax earnings (EBITDA) on Express kiosks by the fourth quarter, in addition to $25 million to $35 million EBITDA in 2011.

Nuti said he expects negotiations with studios regarding revenue-sharing agreements to conclude this summer, and would likely not preclude 28-day delays (windows).

CFO Bob Fishman said distribution agreements with studios involve more than windows, including factoring in technology costs and sellthrough initiatives such as downloads.

“We are looking at the total automated retail offering in the industry, and what does a retail store look like in the future versus what does it look like today?” Fishman said. “That’s why it includes more than just rental.”

Specifically, NCR is exploring expanding distribution of digital content via streaming, a channel currently controlled by Netflix, with Redbox eyeing a streaming initiative in the fourth quarter. The company said it would likely commence alternative distribution channels (including securing content digital rights) through the Blockbuster brand.

“We’re looking at the core investments of what it is we need to do to deliver it into a portable format,” said EVP John Bruno. “Then we will make investments as we see the market unfold. We see that’s going to be a market that’s going to continue to grow and have pretty deep technical demands.”

Nuti said he expects Express kiosks would continue should Blockbuster file for bankruptcy, saying NCR would maintain its business strategy with whoever emerged as holder of Blockbuster’s assets.

The executives’ comments were made before this week’s departure of Alex Camara, SVP and GM of NCR Entertainment.

Edward Woo, analyst with Wedbush Morgan Securities in Los Angeles, said apprehensive comments from NCR executives regarding the DVD kiosk business have been ongoing.

“Replacing their entertainment division head indicates they are not bullish (like Redbox), and it may be a signal that they are going to significantly slow down DVD investment in 2011,” Woo said.

NCR Entertainment contributed to NCR’s Americas segment generating $117 million in second-quarter (ended June 30) operating income, up 17% from operating income of $100 million during the previous-year period. The segment posted revenue of $515 million, compared with revenue of $505 million last year.

Overall, NCR reported income of $31 million, compared with income of $23 million last year, on revenue of nearly $1.2 billion, up from revenue of more than $1.1 billion last year.
post #436 of 577
Thread Starter 
Hisense to Utilize Widevine Adaptive Streaming and DRM in Connected TVs


Widevine's Video Optimization and Digital Rights Management Will Be Included on Hisense Televisions for the Highest Quality Viewing Experience on Content Delivered Over-the-Top

SEATTLE, WA and QINGDAO, CHINA--(Marketwire - August 4, 2010) - Widevine, a provider of digital entertainment solutions, announced today that Hisense Electric Co., Ltd., the number one TV company in China, will include Widevine's adaptive streaming, virtual DVD-like controls, and DRM solution on their Internet-connected televisions. This will enable Hisense to offer their customers the highest-quality viewing experience on content delivered over-the-top.

Hisense is the top LCD TV brand in China and has maintained that position for the past seven years. It exports to over 130 countries and regions throughout the world and holds nearly 30 percent of the LED TV market in China as of the first half of 2010. By incorporating Widevine's video optimization and DRM platform, telecom, cable, satellite, and Internet providers will be able to deliver a high-quality over-the-top experience directly to Hisense TVs.

"We pride ourselves on offering our customers televisions that employ the latest technology, and including Widevine's video optimization capabilities and DRM into our products is in line with this philosophy," said Jian Huaigang, Vice General Engineer of Hisense Electric Co. Ltd. "In doing so, customers can enjoy content from service providers and the Internet alike on their Hisense televisions, whenever they choose to. Not only does this provide a high-quality viewing experience for them, it also strengthens our brand and allows us to retain our leading market position."

Widevine's video optimization and DRM technologies are utilized by major Internet content services and large cable, satellite, and telecommunication companies launching TV Everywhere strategies. The company's software platform optimizes the entertainment experience for live and on-demand content delivered over any network to any device. The solution is natively supported in nearly all types of network-connected consumer electronics including televisions, Blu-ray players, mobile devices, gaming systems and more.

"The race is on for service providers to get their content to as many devices as possible. Widevine's solutions ensure that consumers will receive the highest quality viewing experience possible on premium content delivered over the Internet directly to connect Hisense televisions," said Brian Baker, Widevine CEO. "We are excited to help Hisense enable these services on their lineup of connected TVs."

From April 2009:

Another problem for Sony is that because of their financial woes, the company has been forced to turn to OEM manufacturers to make their Bravia LCD TV's. Among the companies now being used by Sony to manufacture the bottom end Bravia Full HD TV's is Hisense, a Chinese manufacturer who manufactures over 10 million, LCD TV's a year for various brands.
post #437 of 577
Thread Starter 
Netflix and Epix working on major digital partnership to shake up pay TV landscape


In a deal that could transform the landscape for digital movie distribution, start-up pay-TV channel Epix is in serious negotiations to give Netflix exclusive online rights to films from its three equity partners -- Paramount Pictures, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer.

The five-year arrangement would allow Netflix subscribers to watch movies such as "Iron Man 2," "Dinner for Schmucks" and this week's release "The Expendables" via the company's Internet streaming service, according to several people familiar with the situation.

The people noted that there are still outstanding issues that must be resolved before the deal can close.

Netflix is expected to pay Epix close to $1 billion in licensing fees over the life of the deal, bringing the channel closer to its goal of breaking even by 2011. Earnest discussions have been ongoing for several months.

The agreement would make Netflix, best known for its DVD-by-mail business, a potentially formidable competitor to Time Warner's dominant pay channel Home Box Office, which has movies from Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox and Universal Pictures. As more people watch Internet content on their televisions, Netflix has been investing huge amounts of money to acquire content for its streaming video service. It already has a deal with Liberty Media's pay channel Starz, which brings it movies from Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures. Netflix also recently acquired exclusive pay-TV window rights for films produced by Relativity Media.

Among the issues the two companies are discussing is when exactly Epix would allow Netflix to start streaming its movies. One person familiar with the matter said it would be at some point after Epix starts airing new movies, typically several months after they launch on DVD.

Epix, which launched last year amid doubts that there was room for another pay television channel, is currently carried on only a handful of smaller cable and satellite operators, such as Cox Communications, Charter Communications and Dish Network. In a recent interview, the channel's chief executive, Mark Greenberg, said he expects to reach between 3 million and 4 million television subscribers this summer. The new deal would immediately make his company's movies available to 15 million Netflix subscribers, 61% of whom have previously used its online service.

However, major cable carriers such as Comcast Corp. may be put off by the partnership, which would make paying to subscribe to Epix's channel less appealing to the Netflix users. Epix and its partner studios have apparently concluded that they are willing to make a big bet on the digital future by partnering with content-hungry Netflix.

On a recent call with Wall Street analysts, Netflix Chief Executive Reed Hastings said his company is "investing aggressively in streaming content because of the clear benefits to the business," citing the opportunity to attract more subscribers and spend less on postage to ship DVDs.

A partnership with Netflix is not expected to impact Epix's own online video streaming service.

A person familiar with the matter said the agreement would allow Paramount, Lionsgate and MGM to sell and rent their movies via digital stores such as Apple Inc.'s iTunes, a privilege that HBO doesn't give its studios.

Greenberg did not immediately return a call for comment, nor did a spokesman for Netflix.
post #438 of 577

Its been officially confirmed now. Starts sept 1 with a 90 day window on movies.


I will be curious to know if netflix gets everything epix has or if it will be a selection of stuff from them, if tv series will be included, and if they will have HD from the start. I would assume it will be the complete epix library and will be HD (don't know why they would make a deal these days w/o HD content)
post #439 of 577
Really hoping surround sound comes soon as well.
post #440 of 577
Great news!
post #441 of 577
Originally Posted by jagouar View Post

Its been officially confirmed now. Starts sept 1 with a 90 day window on movies.


I will be curious to know if netflix gets everything epix has or if it will be a selection of stuff from them, if tv series will be included, and if they will have HD from the start. I would assume it will be the complete epix library and will be HD (don't know why they would make a deal these days w/o HD content)

So Netflix will get the new content about 5-6 mos after home video release.
post #442 of 577
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

So Netflix will get the new content about 5-6 mos after home video release.

With Netflix's current pricing that appears to be the sweet spot. Any newer and I think you'll have to have different pricing plans in place. If and when that happens it will get interesting. First DVD, Blu-ray, PPV, Premium Channels and finally Streaming. With the current pricing structures can you expect anything else?
post #443 of 577
Originally Posted by Charles R View Post

With Netflix's current pricing that appears to be the sweet spot. Any newer and I think you'll have to have different pricing plans in place. If and when that happens it will get interesting. First DVD, Blu-ray, PPV, Premium Channels and finally Streaming. With the current pricing structures can you expect anything else?

At a flat rate per month, no, you can't really expect any earlier.

"(1)First DVD, Blu-ray, PPV, (2)Premium Channels and finally (3)Streaming."

Some PPV is actually becoming available on theatrical release date, Comcast has some sort agreement with someone to make that happen.

What I'd really like to see Netflix do is increase the video quality of their encodes and add 5.1 audio.
post #444 of 577
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

Some PPV is actually becoming available on theatrical release date, Comcast has some sort agreement with someone to make that happen.

Mark Cuban is still doing this with HDNet Movies. Last one I caught was The Extra Man.

post #445 of 577
If there's any truth to the below article it certainly makes the EPIX/Netflix deal a non-event for me.

Netflix's Deal With EPIX Adds Less Than 300 Movies, None In HD
post #446 of 577
Originally Posted by keenan View Post

If there's any truth to the below article it certainly makes the EPIX/Netflix deal a non-event for me.

Netflix's Deal With EPIX Adds Less Than 300 Movies, None In HD

Well, based on the price the deal is supposedly worth, I don't think it's only 300 movies. I tend to agree with the second and third comments (1 is that EPIX has a lot more movies, but probably not all encoded) and that the guy doesn't know how to count since the guy counted 300 movies and there's 1527 listed (yes, I put the list into Excel so I could count) and HackingNetflix says the deal is for around 3000. And nobody other than this guy has said they won't be HD, AFAIK.

I will wait and see. Basically that article is just FUD.

EDIT: Just realized this was the "news" thread. Sorry. Shouldnt' be cluttered up with this kindof discussion.
post #447 of 577
Thread Starter 
LA Times:

Google TV undergoes a trial by partisans


Four hundred Google employees, including the woman who will run its marketing campaign, have been testing the Internet giant's effort to marry broadcasting and the Web. The big question is whether outsiders will embrace it.

Brittany Bohnet and fiancé Dave Morin used to plop in front of the television in their San Francisco living room with a smart phone in one hand and the remote control in the other, computers resting in their laps as they switched their attention from screen to screen.

But with Google TV, the young couple can watch the latest episode of AMC's "Mad Men," check updates from friends on Facebook and on Flickr show off photos of Morin's marriage proposal (in a seaplane over a Maldives beach where he had spelled out the question in coconuts on the sand) — all on one screen.

We have gone from hundreds of channels to millions of channels," Bohnet said. "You can build your own TV experience."

Bohnet, 25, who runs the marketing campaign for Google TV, is one of 400 Google Inc. employees who have been testing Google's latest venture. Morin, a 29-year-old Internet entrepreneur, is already sold. He believes people will spend even more time in front of their televisions and with each other.

"This is going to be one of those things that people talk about," he said. "People don't get what the possibilities are."

It will be Bohnet's job to coax the rest of the world to get them. Not everyone will be as easy to convince as Morin. The real test of the Internet giant's high-stakes gamble to bring the Web to TV comes this fall when the first Logitech International set-top boxes and Sony high-definition television sets and Blu-ray players that run Google TV software land on store shelves.

Google will have to persuade the television audience that so far has shown little interest that they should hook up another set-top box to their televisions or pay a premium to buy a new TV set that runs on Google's software.

The technology company better known for its ubiquitous search engine will also have to entice manufacturers other than Sony to make Google televisions and retail chains other than Best Buy to sell them. And it must succeed where others have struggled. Boxee Inc., Roku Inc. and TiVo Inc. all make devices that offer Internet video on TV and have yet to gain mainstream traction.

Even Apple's set-top box, which plugs into a TV to allow viewers to watch movies and shows through iTunes, has stirred little excitement. Analysts say Apple will probably revamp its product and reduce the price to $99 from $229 to take on Google TV. Apple declined to comment on its plans.

Bohnet believes television is ready for a major makeover: No one wants a computer or phone without a browser these days, she says. Why would they want a TV without one?

Google TV gives you a home screen that you can personalize with your favorite shows, channels or websites. It includes a browser and search box to explore the Web and the TV programming lineup. Bohnet can even give her Android or iPhone the voice command, "Friends," and within seconds it dispatches a search query to the television to find the show's episodes.

A queue organizes and saves programs Bohnet has recorded and video podcasts she wants to watch. An on-screen guide offers her viewing options by category, say comedies or news programs. If she finds something interesting on her smart phone, she can "fling" it (Google's terminology for sharing something with the TV) and watch it there.

Her friends no longer have to hunch over a laptop to show each other spoof movie trailers on YouTube.com; anyone with an Android or iPhone has a remote control to her TV at their fingertips. Google TV also makes multitasking easier with a picture-in-picture feature: Bohnet can watch the New York Yankees play the Texas Rangers while browsing baseball statistics on the Web.

Bohnet said she's already looking forward to sharing television with friends (think text and video chat on the TV screen while watching "American Idol" with a friend in another location, for example). As for other features, she's banking on the ingenuity of software developers who have helped drive the success of Android smart phones and Apple's iPhone. Many of the 50,000 applications in the Android store will work on Google TV beginning early next year. That's when Google will release the software developer's kit so that developers can begin to roll out applications created for Google TV, Bohnet said.

These applications may help deliver the long-held promise of interactive television, Bohnet said. A prime example is Shazam, an application for smart phones. Not sure what that song is playing on TV? Hold your smart phone near the set for about 30 seconds and Shazam identifies the song and its artist. Shazam then remembers the song and offers you a chance to buy it or play the YouTube video if one's available.

"We don't even know what developers are going to do," Bohnet said.
post #448 of 577
Thread Starter 

As Streaming Prices Drop, a Bet on High-Def


Open a video on ESPN.com or Hulu and there's a good chance Akamai Technologies' (AKAM) software and servers are working behind the scenes. The company is the leader in the booming business of helping websites stream content. Researcher comScore (SCOR) estimates that people watched 35.7 billion online videos in June in the U.S., up from 19.5 billion a year earlier. Akamai and its competitors will have sales of about $600 million from online video this year, up 20 percent from 2009, estimates research firm Frost & Sullivan.

Akamai was the best-performing stock in the S&P 500 this year up to July 28, climbing 74 percent.

That's when investors did a U-turn, sending Akamai down by 13 percent over two days. The reason: Akamai said its second-quarter margin before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization had dropped 2 percentage points from a year earlier, to 46 percent, and could thin even more next quarter. (Akamai's stock has bounced back 11 percent since July 29, and is No. 2 on the S&P year to date.)

The narrower margin came from increased spending on equipment and new hires, and falling prices. Website owners typically pay Akamai based on the volume of digital content, measured in gigabytes, called up by users. The average price websites pay to stream video fell 40 percent to 45 percent in 2009 and is on track to decline another 25 percent this year, estimates Frost & Sullivan. The causes of the drop are Moore's Lawthe number of transistors on a chip doubles every 18 months, making computers cheaper and more powerful over timeand competition. Once the only significant player in delivering online video, Akamai has faced increased pressure from newer entrants such as Level 3 Communications (LVLT) and Limelight Networks (LLNW), says Frost & Sullivan analyst Dan Rayburn. Delivering online video "is becoming much more of a commodity business," says Jim Louderback, CEO of video site Revision3, which uses Akamai competitor BitGravity to stream shows it produces over the Web.

Paul Sagan, Akamai's chief executive officer, says price wars don't mean commoditization. "I don't agree there is a fundamentally new pricing dynamic," he says. "Unit prices fall every year as volumes grow. If this were a mature, saturated business that would be a concern. We're at about 1 percent of the opportunity that has been tapped."

The most promising area of growth, Sagan says, may be high-definition video, which has just started arriving on PCs. About 7 percent of all videos watched on the Web are in high-definition, up from 3.5 percent last year, according to researcher IDC, and by 2014 one-third of all online video will be HD. Frost & Sullivan says Akamai charges a customer like Netflix about 5 cents for an HD movie, compared with about 3 cents for standard definition. "We're right on the cusp of rapid adoption" of HD, Sagan says.

During this year's World Cup, Akamai delivered live feeds of soccer matches to the websites of two dozen broadcasters worldwide, including ESPN and the BBC. Sagan says most viewers opted for high def. HD "is almost a requirement at this point in the sports field," says Eric Black, director of digital operations for NBC Sports.

"The majority of major broadcasters used us to deliver the World Cup in HD," says Sagan. "To me, that's not the definition of a commodity at all."
post #449 of 577
Thread Starter 
LoveFilm Adds MGM Movie Library; Aims To Be More Than Europe's Netflix'


LoveFilm, which is often regarded as the Netflix (NSDQ: NFLX) of the Europe, has struck a major deal with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios that gives its streaming rental service access to hundreds of classic movies and new home video releases. The deal comes as LoveFilm is trying to be seen as more than just a DVD renter, while MGM and other Hollywood studios are trying to make a real business out of online streaming.

Six-year-old UK-based LoveFilm's big goal right now is to be seen as a general entertainment content provider, with its primary objective centered around being the go-to company for all things film. After that, it wants to be known for its game offerings. But like Netflix, the physical DVD is what brings in the money today and signing up MGMand its 4,100 movieswill have immediate benefits as well as long-term advantages as digital streaming of movies becomes increasingly competitive.

LoveFilm has relied on major partnerships before. After it acquired Amazon's DVD rental business in the UK and German markets over two years ago, Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) subsequently became the company's largest shareholder
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Netflix debuts on the iPhone

Netflix has hit the iPhone.

The popular video subscription service just updated its Apple app to support the iPhone and iPod Touch, which now join the iPad in offering streaming videos. Netflix members can download the free 1.1.0 version to watch their favorite TV shows and movies.

The Netflix app lets you access your Instant Queue to view videos you've already saved. You can browse by genre or search for specific titles from the service's growing library of streaming content. You can also stop a video and then resume where you left off, whether you're watching on your iPhone, your computer, or your game console.

To tap into this app, you must be a paying Netflix subscriber (plans start at $8.99 a month) or set up a free 30-day trial. On the mobile side, you need to be running iPhone OS 3.1.3 or later.

The app's debut on the iPhone is not unexpected. After launching its mobile version for the iPad in April, Netflix confirmed that it was working on porting the app to the iPhone and iPod Touch.

What's next for Netflix? The company may be prepping an Android version of its mobile app. Reports recently surfaced that Netflix is hiring an Android video playback expert to work on a new project.
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