Some Neflix subscribers are finding that their pricey Blu-ray player has been sitting around with nothing to do. That's because Netflix doesn't have enough Blu-ray titles to go around, particularly when it comes to hot new releases. It's not uncommon for a movie to sit in a subscriber's queue for a month or more with an expected availability listed as "Long Wait." Bummer.
Cnet talked to Steve Swasey, a Netflix spokesperson, about the problem, who said part of it has to do with studios not providing enough Blu-ray copies of new releases that the company would like get. But it isn't always the fault of the studios.
"There is an expense to that," Swasey said. "These things cost money. We deploy money where we think it's going to be most efficient to keep subscribers and investors happy. It's always check and balances."
Not all subscribers can be happy hearing Swasey lay the blame on the cost, considering that Netflix started adding a $1 surcharge for Blu-ray renters back in October. Jessie Teitz, Neflix's VP of marketing, said the surcharge was to cover the "significant cost difference" between Blu-ray and standard DVDs, which brings up another tidbit that active subscribers can't be happy about. When there aren't enough copies to go around, users who rent less frequently jump to the front of the line.
"What we're doing is giving new releases to the person who hasn't rented as much," he said. "We've been doing this for a couple of years and fully disclose this in our terms of agreement. If we have a shortage of titles we do what we think is equitable and give the title to the person who hasn't rented as much or who hasn't gotten as much enjoyment from the service."
In short, the $1 surcharge that all Blu-ray renters pay is going towards not enough Blu-ray copies, which are then doled out to infrequent renters.
Hit the jump and tell us whether you agree or disagree with how Netflix is handling Blu-ray movies.
Last week several Xbox 360 and Roku set-top box owners complained of loss of quality and irritating delays when firing up a movie through Netflix's streaming download service. At the time, the glitch had Netflix stumped, but now it appears Netflix has identified the problem and fixed whatever was causing the issue.
"This was a temporary issue that we believe we have resolved," Netflix wrote on its blog site. "Working with our content distribution partners and key carriers, we made some specific changes that should restore everyone's experience to where it was before - high quality streaming."
However, there might still be work to do. Netflix posted its update on Friday, December 5th, but users throughout the weekend were still reporting lingering issues in the comments section.
After months of anticipation, Microsoft rolled out its latest dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console on November 19th, which among other things, added support for Netflix's streaming service. The update couldn't come quick enough for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account, but not everyone is finding that the wait was worth it.
An unknown glitch has been wreaking havoc on the video streams causing both loss of quality and long delays before a movie is watchable. Xbox 360 owners aren't alone in their plight, as the problem first manifested itself in homes using the $99 Roku box. A Netflix spokesman said the company is working on a fix for both platforms, but that might be hard to do without having identified the culprit.
"We're doing all of the analysis we can," said Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey. "We're looking at the region, at carriers...we're working diligently to identify the problem. Unteil we have, we certainly don't want to speculate at all. Look, there's no manual to take off the shelf here. Netflix has created something new here."
Swasey also said Netflix isn't taking the complaints lightly, despite the relatively small number of complaints.
Hit the jump and tell us how your Netflix experience has been.
On Wednesday of last week, Microsoft rolled out its long anticipated dashboard update for the Xbox 360 console. Among other things, the update incorporated support for Netflix subscribers with an Xbox Live Gold account to be able and stream the online rental service's catalog of downloadable movies and TV shows through the Xbox 360, some of which is in high definition. With consumers slow to warm to Blu-ray, the Netflix capability could potentially nudge undecided console owners in Microsoft's direction rather than opting for Sony's Playstation 3 + Blu-ray combo. But does Sony feel threatened?
Officially, the answer is 'no.' Following the dashboard update, Sony films pulled a disappearing act from Xbox's Netflix streaming service prompting all kinds of speculation and conspiracy theories. And all of it wrong, according to Sony.
"This issue is not specific to Xbox or any other individual platform," Sony said in an email statement. "Sony Pictures is currently in discussions with the relevant parties to resolve certain licensing matters related to the distribution of its motion pictures. Given the ongoing nature of these discussions, we don't think it is appropriate to comment further at this time."
Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey didn't wish to comment on any specific studio licensing deals either, saying only that titles "come in and out of licensing all the time." And that's where things currently reside in the standoff between Sony and Netflix. Some Sony films have reappeared on the streaming service, but neither Sony or Netflix are saying when the rest might return.
Who isn't streaming or planning to stream Netflix content these days? If asked that question yesterday, you could have answered 'TiVo' and been correct. But today we've learned that Netflix and TiVo have partnered to offer streaming downloads by the end of 2008.
This isn't the first time Netflix and TiVo have flirted with each other. Back in 2005, it looked as though the two were going to cozy up to each other before the deal ultimately fell through "indefinitely." Fast forward to today and Netflix now adds TiVo to a growing list of players who either already are, or soon will be streaming the online rental service's downloadable catalog of titles. Other players include Roku and its set-top box, Microsoft with an upcoming dashboard update to its Xbox 360 console, and select Blu-ray players from LG (LG BD300) and Samsung (BD-P2500 and PD-P2550).
The deal with TiVo has already entered the beta stage for select TiVo owners, and an official roll-out is planned for early December. The service will be available to Netflix subscribers who own a TiVo HD, HD XL, and Series3 DVR.
Netflix continues to lay the groundwork for subscribers to stream movies and television shows to their TV sets with yet another partnership announcement. This time around, it's Samsung who the online rental service is cozying up to, as owners of Samsung's BD-P2500 and BD-P2550 Blu-ray disc players now have the ability to instantly stream content from Netflix's catalog.
As you might recall, a similar announcement was made with LG last summer. In addition to the $99 Roku set-top player and upcoming fall dashboard update to Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, Netflix subscribers have a bevy of options to choose from in streaming content to the living room.
"Samsung presents a new value proposition for Blu-ray players by posititioning it as a portal to a world of engaging digital content, be it Blu-ray discs, movies from Netflix, or other online content," said Reid Sullivan, VP of Marketing, Audio/Video & Imaging at Samsung.
Both Blu-ray players sell for about $400, and Netflix points out that existing owners can upgrade their device at no cost by flashing the firmware. Once upgraded, BD-P2500 and BD-2550 will have access to Netflix's growing library of 12,000 movies and TV episodes.
It was exactly one week ago that I professed my undying love for Netflix with the same affection often heard from those harboring a grade school crush. At the time, which now seems like so long ago, I thought we had worked through most of our issues, but now I find myself needing to vent.
Today I wake up and find out that should I jump on the Blu-ray bandwagon, it's going to cost me an extra $1 per month. Jessie Teitz, Netflix's VP of marketing, says the surcharge is to cover the "significant cost difference" between Blu-ray and standard DVDs and calls the price hike "pretty modest." And while it may seem silly to begrudge a single George Washington to the one I love, that still works out to a near 6 percent price hike for the 3-DVD plan. And for those of you on the 2-DVD plan for $4.99, the increase works out to a 20 percent jump.
Maybe I shouldn't have let Netflix know how wrapped around its finger I am and only have myself to blame. Or maybe I'm overreacting. After all, I won't be charged anything extra to stream Netflix downloads to my Xbox 360 this fall, nor has the recent Starz catalog caused the subscription rate to rise. I know I'll work through this, I'm just not happy about it at the moment.
Do you feel the same way? Hit the jump and offer up some insight.
Let me just say it: I love Netflix. Sometimes I feel like we don't even deserve to be together. Tempted by Blockbuster's in-store exchange policy, I left Netflix behind for a steamy, yet ultimately short lived affair. It all came to a screeching halt when Blockbuster changed the rules of our relationship, demanding more of my money for less of its features.
Since then, I've rekindled my relationship with Neflix, who welcomed me back with open arms, and the thrill of unlimited in-store DVD exchanges on the cheap is nothing more than a memory of broken promises. I'm fully committed to Netflix now, and by all accounts, it appears Netflix is fully committed to me.
Hit the jump to see why I think this love affair will be a long lasting one.
With the help of LG, Netflix just took another giant step into your living room. With the production of the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Player, Netflix users will now be able to stream Netflix videos directly to their TV. But does this come at an additional cost? And what about high definition streaming?
Microsoft made headlines recently by proudly proclaiming it would support Netflix streaming video to Gold members starting this fall at no additional cost. They have also announced plans to open a community application store whose concept very much mirrors the approach taken by Apple with the iPhone app store. Anyone can apply to join the XNA Creators Club, as long as you have the $99 application fee and a unique idea to work with. Microsoft will distribute content at prices ranging from $2.50 to $10.00 taking a mere 30% cut of the profits. Most readers know this approach is about as creative as the mii2 avatar’s but is still a step in the right direction. With community application support and streaming video now coming to the Xbox, it speaks to a larger trend. Consumers are increasingly looking for a one box solution to their entertainment needs. And the battle for the living room is just starting to heat up.
Click the jump to see to see why the future of all in one entertainment devices is bright.