You spoke and Hulu listened - the online video streaming site has added a 'Coming Soon' section so you can keep up with your favorite shows without skipping a beat.
"Simply put, we've noticed that many of you are often wondering when new episodes will be available," Betna Chan-Martin, Product Manager, Hulu, wrote on the company's blog. "After a lot of work with our content providers, our product and design team, and our content team, we decided to create a page that contains a schedule of what's to come for the week ahead."
To find the new page, you'll need to follow the 'Browse by Date' link at the top of Hulu and then click on the 'Coming Soon' tab. Once there, you'll see an episode guide outlining what ABC, Fox, and NBC have in store for the week. And if you're a registered user, you can sign up for email alerts for when a video has been added, or "on the rare occasion when that video is late in getting up on Hulu.com."
Roku, makers of the popular Netflix streaming set-top box, has refreshed its lineup with a pair of new models, bringing the total number of set-top boxes to three.
On the lower end, Roku said it's "introducing a breakthrough price point" with its Roku SD player. Priced at $79, or $20 less than the company's original set-top box, the Roku SD unit connects to TVs using standard composite video and audio cables, but also includes both integrated WiFi (802.11 b/g) and an Ethernet port.
For HD buffs, the new HD-XR player takes things a step further by incorporating 802.11n dual-band.
"The Roku HD-XR is one of the first Netflix-streaming devices to embed next generation 802.11n dual-band wireless connectivity, making it easier and more reliable than ever to start enjoying movies, TV shows, sports, and the best online content available, all on the living room TV," said Anthony Wood, founder and CEO of Roku.
Roku says the HD-XR player not only works with legacy routers, but can actually boost the WiFi range inside the house.
Western Digital has announced the second iteration of its TV connected media player. The new WD TV Live HD takes all that was awesome about the old, and adds some new tricks. The box still has wide codec support for playing files from USB drives, but it now also streams content from Youtube, Pandora, and Flickr. Users can also connect network drives to the new version to view files.
The WD TV Live HD, as the name would suggest, outputs 1080P HD video via a HDMI 1.3 port. Composite and component are also available. If you need to get video off that USB drive and on to your TV, the WD TVs provide an attractive alternative to media center PCs. The new WD TV device has an MSRP of $149.99.
Last.fm has officially left the confines of your computer and handheld gadgets and has hitched a ride in car radios. This doesn't come as a surprise, since parent company CBS announced last month that it planned on launching a new radio station called "Last.fm Discovers."
Powered entirely by the Last.fm weekly charts, Last.fm Discovers is kicks off in four major U.S. cities, including New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago.
CBS said programming would include "Last.fm Recommends with Bryan VanGelder", which is a program that plays a popular song on Last.fm followed by two related and recommended songs, "Last.fm Discovers with Sat Bisla", which focuses on weekly charts, and "Shouts", in which comments left on Last.fm about specific songs will be read aloud followed by playing the song the comment is about.
In what turned out to be a heated code-battle right up until the end, Netflix on Monday awarded a seven-person team of statisticians, machine-learning experts, and computer engineers from the U.S., Austria, Canada, and Israel its $1 million prize. All the multinational team -- called BelKor Pragmatic Chaos -- had to do was put their programming mettle to the test and improve the online movie rental service's movie recommendation algorithm by 10 percent, then fend off the competition for 30 days during which time a last call was issued for other teams to submit their work.
Sounds like an easy way to earn a million smackers, right? Mabye not, but if you think you have what it takes to out-program number crunchers from all around the world, only you missed out the first time around, Netflix is again giving out some serious cash in a follow-up contest.
This time around, the award is cut in half from $1 million to $500,000, but there will be no specific accuracy target as there was before. Instead, contestants will be presented with demographic and behavioral data, and then expected to model indviduals' "taste profiles," Netflix said. The data set of more than 100 million entries will provide the renters' age, gender, ZIP codes, genre ratings, and previously chosen movies.
Studios said to be discussing licensing agreements with YouTube include Sony, Lions Gate Entertainment, and Warner Brothers. But at least one studio exec who claims to be familiar with the talks said no deals are imminent and that having these discussions isn't out of the ordinary.
"Why wouldn't the studios talk to YouTube," the exec said.
Why wouldn't they, indeed. With over 100 million viewers, streaming rentals has the potential to be a win-win proposition for both the Google-owned site and the movie studios. It would also be cause for concern for other streaming services, like Hulu.com and Crackle.com.
DRM protection has been a bone of contention between content owners and anti-DRM activists. The latter party’s contentions seem to be becoming quite popular with content providers, with many music download services, including the august iTunes, opting for DRM-free music. However, DRM hasn’t been eliminated as a lot of downloadable content, including streaming/downloadable videos and streaming music, is still fettered by DRM protection.
“We reject the view that copyright owners and their licensees are required to provide consumers with perpetual access to creative works. No other product or service providers are held to such lofty standards. No one expects computers or other electronics devices to work properly in perpetuity, and there is no reason that any particular mode of distributing copyrighted works should be required to do so,” he wrote in a missive addressed to the Copyright Office’s top legal advisor.
It is quite unrealistic to expect online stores to perpetually maintain their DRM servers. But it is ludicrous to assume that shutting down of an authentication server or the whole online store is reason enough for the user to surrender his ownership rights.
YouTube doesn't boast a cast consisting of Jamie Hyneman, Adam Savage, Tory Belleci, Grand Imahara, and Kari Byron, but that didn't stop the streaming video service from doing a MythBusters piece of its own, but in blog form. The blog post, which was posted this week, addresses several issues about YouTube products that the company says are all bunk.
The number one myth in YouTube's list is that the video service is limited to short-form user-generated content. YouTube responds by pointing out it has thousands of premium content partners, from Sony to Disney to Universal Music, and hundreds of full-length feature films and thousands of full-length TV episodes.
Other concerns YouTube addresses include the popular perception that YouTube videos are grainy and poor quality, traffic and growth are bad for the service's bottom line, advertiser's won't touch YouTube, and that the Google-owned video service is only monetizing 3 to 5 percent of the site. There are all false, or 'busted,' the site says, and you can read the reasoning here.
If you can't beat 'em, buy 'em, and most would agree that Netflix has grown too large (and too strategic) to beat. So who wants to buy them? If you believe the latest rumor, Amazon wants to buy the online DVD rental service, news of which has sent Netflix stock soaring to the highest it's been in 11 weeks.
"There's heavy call buying and the stock is up on renewed takeover talk, with Amazon being mentioned specifically," said Fred Ruffy, the senior options strategist at WhatsTrading.com. "It's pretty typical of speculative buying."
While Netflix and Amazon both compete in the Internet video business, not everyone is convinced a takeover makes much sense. Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, points out that Amazon has distribution centers all across the U.S., meaning the company would have to collect sales tax in those states. Should that happen, subscribers would likely end up footing the bill.
As expected, both Amazon and Netflix said they don't comment on rumors or speculation.
Pretty soon, even your toaster will come with Netflix streaming built in. In the meantime, Netflix's newest target is Sony's line of online-enabled Bravia LCD televisions.
Enabled via a software update expected to launch this fall, those with compatible Bravia sets will gain access to the same growing catalog of movies and television shows that are available on an also growing list of Netflix-streaming devices, including the Xbox 360 console, Roku player, some TiVo sets, and a few Samsung and LG Blu-ray players.
Supported Sony TV sets so far include the XBR9 series, Z5100 series, and the W5100 series, while other Sony sets can add support via a $200 Bravia Internet Video Link. In addition to Netflix streaming, Bravia Internet Video-enabled devices also support content from Amazon's Video-On-Demand, YouTube, CBS, and others.