Netflix has been adding subscribers at a nice clip, seeing an amazing 1.7 million new subscribers in jus the first quarter. As such, it's no surprise that the company is reporting that they've met aggressive earning expectations with total revenue of $493 million. But a lot of those subscribers are signing on and staying largely because of the Netflix Instant Streaming service.
The Netflix streaming service suffered from scant selection at launch, but is now getting more expansive all the time. Those hoping for physical disks are a little displeased about the recent series of quid pro quos. These deals have Netflix delaying DVD releases in favor of increase streaming licenses. Netflix is claiming that in the last quarter 55% of users streamed at least one item from the catalog. That's up from 36% at this time last year.
The reason is clear. While it has always been available on PCs, all the major consoles now have a Netflix streaming option, and there are inexpensive options like the Roku box. There is also a plug-in for Windows Media Center that accomplishes the same function. Users of the Xbox 360 need to maintain a Xbox Gold account to take advantage of Netflix streaming, but the numbers show that isn't much of an impediment. If you use Netflix instant Streaming, let us know how you like it and what platform you use.
A little over two weeks ago, Netflix announced that it had mailed out streaming discs to a number of Wii owners to enable streaming on their console. At the time, Netflix said it was in the final phase of getting ready for the launch to the Wii, and now the wait appears to be over for all Wii owners.
"Jessie Becker here from Marketing and we're thrilled to let you know that we are now shipping instant streaming discs for the Wii to ALL members who want one today!," Becker wrote in an official blog post.
Wii owners who haven't already reserved a disc but would like to can do so here. In addition to the disc, Wii owners also need to be subscribed to one of Netflix's unlimited plans starting at $8.99 a month.
It's no secret that Google is a fan of open standards, and in particular, open video. The HTML5 beta currently in full swing on YouTube is evidence enough of this trend, but at least up until now, all the video being delivered has been in patent encumbered H.264. Given the commitment made to the standard it seemed pretty clear cut that they would be the codec winners in the Google camp, but in a rather interesting turn of events, the search giant has decided to dump a ton of cash into TheorARM, a competitor to H.264 aimed at mobile platforms.
Just in case we lost you, HTML5 delivers on its promise to offer up open standards for Web video, but browser vendors have so far been unable to reach a consensus on what underlying codec should be used. Ogg Theora is a royalty free option favored by most, but when it comes to sheer compression power, H.264 has it beat hands down. Compression is likely the reason for H.264's popularity given the massive bandwidth bills for streaming internet video, but clearly Google doesn't want to be seen as picking sides.
By supporting TheorARM Google is making a significant contribution to open video, and might eventually make it possible for Theora to gain broader support on the mobile web. According to Google's Robin Watts, "We need a baseline to work from-one standard format that (if all else fails) everything can fall back to". This hardly sounds like a ringing endorsement of the technology, but I'm sure the Theora won't turn down the support or big bag of cash.
Try playing hide-and-seek against Netflix and you'll lose every time. There's just no hiding from Netflix and its streaming service, which is available on all three major game consoles, television sets, standalone players, Blu-ray players, and just about everywhere else.
Netflix's aggressive streaming strategy paid off big for early adopters of Apple's iPad bemoaning the lack the Flash support. Available on the same day the iPad launched, the free app gives Netflix subscribers access to the streaming service's online catalog of movies and TV shows, while also giving iPhone and iPod owners a touch of envy, though not for long.
"Terrific response to our news today about Netflix on the iPad," Steve Swasey, VP of Corporate Communications, wrote in a blog post. "For those of you asking whether Netflix will be on the iPhone and iPod touch: We wouldn't invite you to dinner without planning to serve dessert. In other words, we're working on it so stay tuned."'
In an email to a partner today, YouTube confirmed that the new look for the video page they have been testing recently is about to go live. Not long after that, the changes did indeed go live. In case you haven’t seen the new page, it makes the video more of the focus and ditches the clutter.
Right up at the top is the uploader’s information. In addition to the subscribe button, you can see a drop down with the uploader’s other videos. There’s a new player button that puts the video into widescreen mode. This moves the other page elements down. The five star rating system is now gone, replaced instead by a simple thumbs up or down system. Rating a video lets you see how others have rated it. The video description has moved to a drop down right below the video. The recommended video pane now also has an autoplay button so you can avoid all that pesky clicking.
Overall, we feel like it’s a pretty good redesign. It looks much cleaner than the old version, and the video seems like a more prominent part of the page. How do you feel about it?
The SlingPlayer app for the iPhone has long been a good example of what the platform can do. When last month Sling was allowed to stream video of AT&T’s 3G network, the deal got even better. Now we’re hearing that Sling is hard at work on a version of the app specifically for the iPad. This is great news for every Slingbox owner who whishes the iPhone screen was just a little bigger.
The current SlingPlayer app (which costs $29.99) will work on the iPad, but will be upscaled. Sling was tight lipped about just when the iPad native app would show, but did seem to hint that it would be able to stream video at the iPad’s native resolution of 1024 x 768. We’re skeptical that this sort of resolution will be possible over AT&T’s 3G network, even with high compression.
The only real concern we have is the cost. If the iPhone version is $30, how much will the iPad edition cost? Are there any Slingbox owners out there? Would a high quality Sling app for the iPad entice you to take the iPad plunge?
In a recent blog post, Jessie Becker from Neflix's marketing team said the online video rental and streaming service has mailed out discs to a number of Wii owners to enable streaming on their Nintendo-brand console.
"We are in the final phase of getting ready for the launch of streaming to the Wii," Becker writes. "Today, we shipped out instant streaming discs for the Wii to some of our Netflix members. Their feedback will ensure that we deliver a great experience to everyone when we launch."
The upcoming launch will complete Netflix's console triple play, though it's unclear exactly when the service will go live. Those who receive a disc will have access to the streaming service right away, but in an email to CNet, a Netflix representative said, "We have not announced a full launch; however, it will be soon."
Europe’s favorite streaming music service, Spotify, is finally on track for a US launch. The expected release should happen in the third quarter of 2010. The Stokholm-based company is in talks with unidentified internet and cell carrier partners about the details for the launch. Spotify’s senior VP said to day that they are already in the process of buying servers space in the US.
Spotify currently has 7 million customers in Europe, about 325,000 of which pay a monthly fee for additional features. In Europe, Spotify allows users to choose specific songs to stream. This is different from US services like Pandora which just stream songs from a particular genre. However, it is currently unclear what form Spotify will take in the US.
Mobile apps already exist for the iPhone, Android, and Symbian. These would presumably be available for US users. Would you be interested in Spotify? What features would you need to see before paying for a premium subscription?
I case you had forgotten, Viacom is still suing YouTube. Opening statements were presented today and the arguments are shaping up much as we expected. Viacom says YouTube doesn’t do enough to keep copyrighted materials off YouTube, and YouTube says that the “safe harbors” provision of the DMCA protects them from the claims. However, some interesting bits of behind the scene dealings have also come out.
According to a blog post by YouTube Chief Counsel Zahavah Levine, for years Viacom hired people to upload their content, and even went so far as to “rough up” the video so it looked stolen. In an attempt to be stealthy they sent employees to the local Kinkos to upload some content so it wouldn’t be traced to Viacom. All this sneaking around worked super well, even on Vacom itself. YouTube points out that Viacom occasionally asked for a clip to be removed only to reverse themselves upon realizing they uploaded it. According to YouTube, several of the clips involved in the suit were uploaded by Viacom.
The post closes with assurances that YouTube would fight the charges and continue to be a “leader in providing media companies with 21st century tools to control, distribute, and make money from their content online”. Do you think YouTube is at fault, or is Viacom just spoiling for a fight?
In its heyday, the Comdex trade show brought in over 200,000 visitors and 2,300 exhibitors. It was the biggest baddest tech show in Vegas. In 2003, with the tech bust having run its course, the IT focused Comdex faltered and was shut down. Now UBM, which acquired the Comdex name in 2006, have announced plans to relaunch the fabled event as a virtual trade show.
UBM believes they can provide value in the show by learning from the original Comdex’s mistakes. “The original Comdex died because it stopped serving its core customers. We are giving Comdex a future by going back to its past," said UBM CEO David Levin. The show will continue to be focused on IT, software vendors, and business solutions.
The event itself will be packaged up like a live event with keynote speakers, an exhibition hall, and even a media room for journalists and analysts. These will all be accessible on the Comdex website. You can already see the promo flash animation complete with extremely awkward video rundown. Though details are scarce right now, we expect a mix of streaming content and virtual environments. Do you think this can work, or should the memory of Comdex not be tainted?