Comedy Central’s parent company Viacom is apparently moving ahead with plans to remove popular shows like The Daily Show and the Colbert Report from Hulu. Neither side is crying foul, but this represents a major loss to Hulu. The Daily Show is listed as the third most watched show on the service.
Hulu and Viacom originally reached an agreement in 2008 that landed the programs on the streaming service. According to Hulu’s Andy Forssell in a blog post, “In the past 21 months, we’ve had very strong results for both Hulu and Comedy Central, in terms of the views and revenue we’ve generated.” It seems that Viacom simply wanted better terms to extend the streaming license, and Hulu wasn’t having it.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t stream The Daily Show or Colbert Report, but you’ll have to go to their respective websites. This is the sort of fracturing of the online video model that consumers don’t need. Many people expecting to see this content on Hulu might not know seek it out elsewhere. Those are eyeballs Viacom won’t get back. Hulu said users that have subscribed to the affected shows will be notified of their removal today. Maybe if that pay wall ever goes up, Hulu could spread around more cash to prevent defections.
In a recent presentation to music and tech industry executives, NPD Group’s Russ Crupnick had some interesting things to say about music streaming. According to Crupnick, on-demand streaming services like Spotify result in a 13 percent decrease in paid downloads. He went on point out that services that follow the “radio” model, like Pandora, increase sales 41%.
Pandora doesn’t allow users to select specific songs like Spotify, but instead plays music in a chosen genre more or less randomly. The unsurprising conclusion is that people are less likely to buy a song if they can stream it at any time. Perhaps it isn’t that simple; is it possible to draw enough new users to increase overall sales? The key for Spotify may be the effort to convert free users to paid premium users.
This report is just the sort of thing music labels could use to justify keeping Spotify from launching in the US. Warner Music Group Chairman Edgar Bronfman said earlier this month, “Free streaming services are clearly not net positive for the industry.” If Spotify launched stateside, would you ante up for extra features like mobile streaming?
The news broke today that troubled movie streaming service Vudu is being acquired by Wal-Mart for a rumored $100 million. Amid interest from Comcast, Amazon, and Best Buy it seems that America’s largest retailer just had the deepest pockets and the apatite to get into the streaming game. The deal is likely to be finalized in a matter of weeks.
Wal-Mart is the largest seller of DVDs, but has never had a platform for delivery of video over the internet. With the purchase of Vudu, they have a mature service with many content deals already in place. The interesting thing about Vudu is that they stopped making a stand-alone hardware box last year, instead focusing on getting their software embedded in various devices like TVs and Blu-Ray players. Guess who sells a lot of TVs. Yep, Wal-Mart.
It would be reasonable to expect Wal-Mart to aggressively push Vudu enabled TV’s and other devices now that they own it. We may also see manufacturers become more receptive to adding the Vudu service to their products now that a behemoth like Wal-mart is involved. Wal-mart effectively drives down prices wherever they go, could that also hold true in the video streaming space? Could we be looking at a cheap streaming future? Let us know what you think in the comments.
There's no running from Netflix, which has partnered with almost every hardware manufacturer possible. Now the streaming video service is even available on Sony's Dash.
The addition of a dedicated app for Netflix helps the Dash live up to its description as a personal Internet viewer, giving owners instant access to a growing catalog of thousands of movies and TV episodes.
"We're continuing to develop innovative products that bring online music, news, video, and more into our customers' homes in real time," said Brennan Mullin, senior vice president of Sony Electronics' personal imaging and audio business. "By addressing content from Netflix and Demand Media to our Dash product, Sony is giving consumers a new, convenient way to enjoy some of the highest quality entertainment and most useful information on the Internet today."
Content streamed from Netfix will be thrown in a "queue-based user interface" that will be automatically displayed when Dash owners touch the Netflix icon.
The Dash will be available this April for about $200, Sony says.
Hey, did you hear? Netflix plans to bring 1080p streaming and 5.1 surround sound to its streaming HD video service to later this year. Pretty rad, right?
It would be, except Netflix is taking a mulligan on the recent announcement, and now says that it incorrectly acknowledged 1080p streaming in the company's 2010 roadmap. Boo, hiss! Netflix didn't say why it pulled the about-face, though it probably has to do with bandwidth. While not official, Netflix says the requirement to stream 720p HD content on an HD-compatible box is "typically" 5Mbps. It's a safe bet that 1080p would require more, and maybe Netflix feels there aren't enough streaming subscribers with the fast enough broadband speeds.
That means for the foreseeable future, Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 owners are stuck with "underwhelming" 720p. That's right, in somewhat related news, Steve Swasey, VP of Corporate Communications for Netflix, downplayed the streaming service when discussing what Wii owners are missing.
"PS3 and Xbox users have 1 in 17 titles available in HD, and it's streamed in 720... it's not in 1080, and it's not in 5.1 surround sound or anything," Swasey said during an interview with The Wire. "So the HD experience at Netflix Instant Watching isn't that overwhelming. It's a little bit underwhelming. So the Wii folks aren't going to miss that much."
Does your notebook or desktop lack HDMI output? If so, hooking up to your HDTV can turn into a hassle, especially when it comes time to route the audio. Or at least it used to be. Altona's upcoming VGA to HDMI scaler-converter called the AT-HDVieW looks to solve this problem in one fell swoop.
The AT-HDVieW comes with three cables protruding out the back, including audio, VGA, and USB. Why USB? It's there to power the device, while the other two connectors extract audio and video from the host PC and coverts them to an HDMI signal. The built-in scaler makes sure the image looks correct on your TV, no matter what resolution your PC is running.
It supports resolutions up to 1920 x 1200, and unlike some HDMI devices, this one comes with an HDMI cable (6 feet).
Congress held a hearing today to review the proposed purchase of NBC by Comcast. In that hearing Rep. Rick Boucher asked NBC CEO Jeff Zucker about the blocking of Boxee from Hulu content. Mr. Zucker’s answer was uncompromising, if a bit ham-handed. “What Boxee was doing was illegally taking the content that was on Hulu without any business deal,” said Zucker. He added, “What we preclude are those who illegally take that content.” He also said NBC was willing to negotiate with Boxee.
Boxee has responded to the assertion that they were engaged in illegal activity. Boxee’s Avner Ronen pointed out that they were in no way “taking” the video. Boxee simply accesses the content on Hulu via a web browser. The video is not copied, and it playes in its original form straight from the Hulu website. The process is no different than using Firefox or IE to load Hulu; there’s certainly nothing illegal about that. Ronen said he believes that Boxee users can add value to Hulu’s content, hinting that many users may be willing to pay for access to Hulu.
Ronen wrote that he intends to take NBC up on the offer to negotiate, and will contact them. However, if NBC continues to throw around words like “illegal”, the negotiations could be rocky indeed. Is this a case of a CEO being disingenuous to Congress, or just confused about technology? You can view the C-Span footage of the exchange here if you like.
Netflix spinoff Roku has been doing quite well as of late. Roku has sold over 500,000 of their streaming boxes, which steam content from the likes of Netflix, Pandora, TwiT.tv, and Revision3. With revenue doubling last year to $75 million, Roku is looking to expand, and may be planning an IPO.
If Roku is able to raise the expected $30 million, their next step could be to kill your cable. Roku is currently recruiting content providers to create channels. They hope to be able to offer 100 channels of on-demand programming this year. “We’re not far away from the time when you’ll be able to get the same kinds of channels that any cable operator can offer,” said Roku CEO Anthony Wood.
Would this sort of service get you to drop your cable?
If all the talk of HTML 5 has piqued your curiosity, then you may want to give YouTube's new HTML 5 experiment a try. The world's most popular video streaming portal is now offering a HTML5-based alternative to the Adobe Flash player. But the YouTube HTML 5 video player is only compatible with three browsers: Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer with ChromeFrame. While other browsers may support HTML 5, only the two mentioned above support the H.264 video codec at this moment.
Nintendo's Wii console is starting to grow up. No, you still can't watch Blu-ray movies, or even standard DVDs, on the game console, but the best selling (and least expensive) current-gen console is going to integrate Neflix's online streaming video service.
Netflix is already available on both the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 consoles, and up to this point, Nintendo has been content to focus solely on gaming. According to a report in The New York Times, however, Nintendo may be feeling the pressure to compete on a larger scale than just console games, which are having to contend with a rise in cheap (smartphones) and free (social networking sites) gaming alternatives.
"You have to wonder if people are going to buy prepackaged $60 videogames in the future," said Mark Mahaney, managing director for Internet research at Citigroup. "If you are a console maker, you better quickly hurry to add more functionality and features to your console."
Wii owners will need a broadband subscription and have at least a $9/month Netflix subscription to enjoy the streaming service, which is a better deal than Xbox 360 owners get, who must also have an Xbox Live Gold membership.