As much as we love our streaming Netflix service, if there's one gripe (and it's a pretty big one), it's that the catalog of titles isn't anywhere near as fleshed out as we'd like it to be. But hey, at least Netflix is headed in the right direction, as evidenced by a deal with premium cable channel Epix reportedly valued at over $900 million.
Who the frak is Epix, you ask? Epix is owned and operated by Studio 3 Partners, a joint venture that includes Viacom (Paramount Pictures), MGM, and Lionsgate, all of which we're willing to bet you have heard of.
Under terms of the near $1 billion deal, Netflix will be allowed to stream titles from all three studios 90 days after they make their debut on Epix, giving the streaming service access to a greater number of big name titles.
The first such titles will start to trickle out on September 1st.
Netflix is already available on Apple's iPad and seems right at home on a handheld tablet. Will Android owners be next? It's certainly looking that way.
According to a recent Netflix job posting, the online movie rental/streaming service is looking for an engineer to help "build Instant Streaming client implementations on Android devices." There's no mention of whether that includes Android tablets, smartphones, or both, but it's at least clear that Netflix is headed to Google's open-source OS.
"That job is posted but we're not commenting beyond that," a Netflix spokesman said.
Those interested must have "10+ years of relevant software development experience" and "have implemented video playback on Android-based devices" before.
Everyone's favorite DVD rental kiosk, Redbox, is about to take a big step into the realm of high definition. The company will soon be rolling out Blu-ray discs to their locations, but it will cost customers a bit more pocket change. Regular DVDs have always gone for $1 per night, but Blu-rays will run you $1.50 per night.
At first, the selection will be limited, with titles like The Book of Eli, Green Zone, Bounty Hunter, and Brooklyn's Finest showing up in the first batch. The delay in moving to Blu-ray was tied to a legal dispute with the studios. Redbox has agreed to wait 28 days after a film's disc release before stocking it. This move brings Redbox to parity with Netflix, which has been offering Blu-rays by mail for some time.
At the rate Redbox and Netflix are taking over the market, we have to wonder how Blockbuster can expect to continue on. Are you a frequent user of Redbox? Does $1.50 for a Blu-ray sound like a reasonable price to you?
Remember the other day when the hot rumor was that Redbox would be taking on Netflix with a streaming service? Well, it looks like they're going to have more of a deficit to make up than we thought. Netflix has just announced that their overall subscriber count has jumped 42% since last year. The numbers, while in line with Netflix's predictions, and pretty substantial in our estimation, were not up to analyst expectations, and Netflix stock is trading down about 10%.
Another interesting tidbit from Netflix's quarterly statement is that 61% of their customers streamed at least one TV show or movie during the quarter. Clearly, people have embraced the streaming service in a big way. Raw revenue was up only 27% over last year, indicating that many customers were opting for cheaper plans, that still include the streaming service. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even called the demand for Netflix Watch Instantly "astounding".
Are you a new customer to Netflix? Let us know how you use the service. Is it just the occasional disc and lots of streaming, or do you prefer to get the physical media as much as possible?
You may be familiar with the Redbox DVD rental kiosks, but company president Mitch Lowe hinting at the next step for Redbox. In a recent interview, Lowe discussed their intention to expand the selection beyond what can be crammed into their kiosks. This isn't likely to be a shipping model like Netflix mostly relies on, but a streaming service.
Rumored pricing is only $3.95 per month for unlimited streaming and four kiosk rental a month. By comparison, Netflix plans start at $8.99 per month for streaming and a single mailed DVD at a time. The make or break element of Redbox's service would be the selection. Netflix has famously sought to get newer movies on their streaming service, but the selection is still lacking top content. Could Redbox come from nowhere and surpass Netflix?
If this plan actually come to fruition, Blockbuster is likely to be the biggest loser. The video rental chain is already on the verge of bankruptcy, and a new push from Redbox could do them in.
With the announcement that Netflix is bringing its streaming TV and movie service north of the border, our Canadian brethren have one less thing to complain about.
"Canadian Netflix members will be able to instantly watch a broad array of movies and TV episodes right on their TVs via a range of consumer electronics devices capable of streaming from Netflix, as well as watching on PCs and Macs," Netflix announced today.
At launch, the service will be available in English only, but there are plans to add French language capability sometime down the line.
While Netflix continues to spread its presence on even more devices -- look for the streaming video service to shuttle onto the iPhone this summer -- one time rival Blockbuster is struggling just to stay in business. It's hard to call the two rivals anymore considering the sorry state the rental chain is in.
The latest victory for Blockbuster has nothing to do with one-upping Netflix or Redbox, but in winning a one-month reprieve on debt payments, Reuters reports. And even that comes with a caveat - the mega rental chain must begin delisting from the New York Stock Exchange.
After failing to make debt payments on July 1, Blockbuster said it struck a forbearance agreement with creditors holding some 70 percent of its 11.75 percent senior secured notes due 2014. Collectively, creditors are owed about $440 million, and they've agreed to hold off from exercising "remedies" until August 13.
"Six weeks is not a long time in a tough economy, where nobody has much credit," said Michael Pachter, analyst with Wedbush Securities. "There's nothing on the horizon that makes it look like Blockbuster is going to be more profitable."
Paramount has taken the opposite stance to that of their fellow Hollywood studios regarding DVD rental service Redbox. Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox have all extracted a deal from Redbox that sees them making movies available only after a 28 day waiting period. This is intended to drive sales of the newly released discs. In reality, it most likely just drives consumers mad. Paramount has agreed to allow Redbox to rent movies the day they are made available for sale.
The rental landscape is changing rapidly with services like Netflix and Redbox. Redbox offers rentals for $1 per night. Paramount seems to be taking note of the boost Redbox is offering. " There hasn't been a cannibalization of DVD sales from Redbox, and Redbox was allowing us to expand our business and ultimately make more money," said Paramount Home Entertainment president Dennis Maguire.
Netflix has gotten the same treatment from Warner Bros., Universal Pictures and 20th Century Fox, but it may be different with Paramount. When they work out their next arrangement, Maguire said they will go in with similar intentions. Do you frequent a local Redbox? Would a release window make you more likely to purchase a movie?
Following the recent launch of Apple's Safari 5 Web browser, users have been reporting that Netflix streaming no longer works. We expect this to be sorted out rather quickly, but in the meantime, there's a pretty simple workaround - use a better browser. Oops, did we just say that?
We kid (kind of). For those of you who want to stick it out with Safari, you can take matters into your own hands until an official fix is in. The problem stems from the browser agent string, which Netflix doesn't yet recognize as a supported browser. All you have to do is change this back to Safari 4.1 and you're golden. Here's how:
Click the Gear icon (Settings) and select Preference > Advanced. Check the "Show Develop menu in menu bar" box. Now click the Paper icon (Menu) and select Develop > User Agent > Safari 4.1 -- Mac (yes, you select this option even on a Windows machine).
That's it, you're now ready to one again stream Netflix movies and TV shows to your browser. Just be aware that if you later plan to surf a Safari 5 optimized site, you'll want to switch this back.
A new study from ScanScout could be mighty troubling to advertising types. Apparently about 24% of all online video is being watched during the traditional television primetime hours of 8PM-11PM. You know, the time the networks assume we're watching so they can charge more for ads. It's really starting to look like online video is replacing a certain amount of live TV viewing.
The programmers have always seen their online offerings as a secondary option for people, not as a replacement for their broadcasts. This is evidenced by the approach networks are taking to Hulu and Netflix. But these numbers indicate viewers are perfectly happy to stream what they want if the network isn't giving it to them.
The study also clearly indicated that primetime isn't the only time people sit down to stream video. The other time when users streamed higher than average amounts of content was weekend days. It was 31% higher than during weekdays. It's clear that when people have time to watch a program, they are increasingly turning to online sources. Do you find online video is eating up time you might have spent watching TV in the past?