Lionsgate, Paramount and MGM have all come together to create a new TV network called Epix that will show their own recent films in HD before they’re released on DVD. They’re also bringing this channel online with an on-demand website that will offer HD streaming of the very same films. And, best of all, it won’t have any advertising and won’t show up on your cable bill.
Epix will be bundled directly into cable packages, and according to their current business model, won’t show up as a separate charge on your bill. If Epix can convince enough cable operators to sign on (they haven’t announced any partners yet), they will be able to gain a competitive edge over pay-TV channels that have a monthly fee.
The best part of it all is the site, epixhd.com. The films will stream in 720p, all for free. The video will be offered through Flash and is multi-bitrate enabled. The player will check your available bandwidth every ten seconds to see if a larger or smaller stream is required. Epix is currently working off of six different encodings for each film, ranging from cell phone quality (500Kbps) all the way to full HD.
But, there’s reportedly a catch (surprise, surprise). In order to use the website, you’ll need to be signed up with an ISP’s Internet and cable. This is primarily because Epix is looking to install caching servers directly in the data centers of ISPs that partner with them.
Brace yourselves for this one. Hulu -- the free video streaming service that has others, like YouTube, trying to emulate it -- may not be totally free in the not too distant future. Or at least that's how Jonathan Miller, News Corp.'s new chief digital officer, envisions things.
According to AOL's Daily Finance website, Miller said he sees Hulu making at least some of its content available only to paid subscribers. At the same time, he was also quick to clarify that he won't attend his first Hulu board meeting until next week, meaning his speculation doesn't necessarily reflect that of Hulu's.
"In my opinion the answer could be yes," Miller said. "I don't see why over time that shouldn't happen. I don't think it's on the agenda for Monday [but] it seems to me that over time that could be a logical thing."
Keep in mind that News Corp. co-owns Hulu and it's Miller's job to find ways of getting revenue from from News Corp.'s properties.
In other words, enjoy Hulu while you can - in the long run, it may all have been just an extended free trial.
Just this week Hulu launched their new service, Goog—err, Hulu Labs in the interest of letting their users get a more hands on approach to the development of the site.
“To help us learn from user feedback […], we’re excited to open up a new Hulu Labs section on the site today. At Hulu Labs, we’ll provide sneak peeks at some of the upcoming releases from our product roadmap, some of which are personal projects and hobbies our devs have been cooking up,” wrote Eric Feng, Hulu’s CTO on their official blog. “From new recommendation algorithms to tools for building custom widgets to a time-based view for browsing your favorite shows, we’ll be sharing a variety of these new creations with you at Hulu Labs and looking forward to your thoughts on how to make these products better.”
They also released the beta for Hulu Desktop, an application that has been optimized to let you watch all of your favorite shows (so long as they’re hosted on Hulu) on your desktop or media center PC. The UI has been designed with a small Microsoft or Apple remote in mind, making it a very reasonable contender for all the media center PCs out there.
Chances are good that if you’re a fan of streaming music online, you’ve heard of Pandora. And, apparently users of the service like it so much that they’ve actually been asking about ways to pay the company to guarantee its survival. At long last those (strange) questions have been answered, with the introduction of Pandora One.
Pandora One is a subscription-based model allowing users that shell out $36 a year access to some premium options. First off, premium users will no longer have to put up with ads of any kind (this includes the in-stream audio ads). Secondly, and most notably, they’ll gain access to a Pandora desktop app that includes high quality streaming audio (bumped up to 192 kbps), a personalized look, a mini player, and extended player time outs.
For many of us, the free-to-use service is just fine as is. The ads that are currently keeping it alive aren’t very invasive (even the audio ones), and with apps such as OpenPandora out there it’s admittedly a tough sell. But, for those looking to show their love for their favorite online streaming service, $36/year isn’t too bad a price.
Jonas Brothers fans and those looking for marblecake recipes on YouTube may get more than they bargained for today. That's because 4chan and eBaum's World have teamed up for "Operation Porn Day," which involves uploading explicit video clips to YouTube using innocuous tags.
Many of the clips have already been removed, but according to Arstechnica, it was able to find others that haven't yet been caught (still reading?). In addition to the false tags, a lot of the clips contain 20 to 30 seconds of seemingly legitimately content, such as a newscast, before getting down and dirty.
"It may take some time for video search results and thumbnail images to disappear from the site," Google spokesperson Scott Rubin said. "Typically, this should not take more than a couple of days, but the videos themselves are no longer viewable."
In other words, you may want to keep your kids and nephews occupied with something other than YouTube for the time being.
Let the streaming music wars begin. Just last week Microsoft went on the offensive and attacked Apple's iTunes service over its pricing model compared to the Zune Pass unlimited subscription service, which serves up all-you-can-listen-to tunes plus 10 free tracks for $14.99/month. Looking to leapfrog ahead of them both, Napster, now a Best Buy commodity, is planning to relaunch its subscription music service with a $5 deal that includes 5 free tracks every month.
"There's no need to settle for 30-second clips to decide if you want to buy a song," said Chris Gorog, CEO of Napster. "For five bucks now you can have access to our entire music catalog and get five MP3s to add to your permanent collection."
The new pricing model, which goes into effect tonight, could put Napster in contention with more popular music services and put the one-time P2P pioneer back on top. Napster's catalog sits at over 7 million strong and includes more than 60 commercial-free radio stations, which seems like an obscene amount of content for the same price as a Subway footlong.
Anyone plan on giving Napster a second look? Hit the jump and sound off.
Hulu is currently one of the hottest video sites available on the web. It’s about to take over the number two spot amongst streaming video sites (behind only YouTube), and it just signed a deal with Disney that will give it even more content. Though, these great features are only available to those that live in the US, and they’re making damn sure it stays that way.
In the past, if you weren’t living in the US and you wanted access to Hulu’s massive library of footage, you had to use a proxy server workaround. For a while, this worked without a hitch, but Hulu wised up to the tricky practices and began doing geo-checks. Still, a few VPN creators like Hotspot Shield would work by making your IP address anonymous. Sadly, these days have ended.
Hulu’s techniques for detecting location has once again changed, and they’re blocking all anonymous proxies. If you’re one of those looking to use the video site through a VPN, you’ll be met with this message: “Based on your IP address, we noticed you are trying to access Hulu through an anonymous proxy tool. Hulu is not currently available outside the U.S. If you’re in the U.S., you’ll need to disable your anonymizer to access videos on Hulu.”
At long last, Hulu and Disney finally inked a deal giving Hulu permission to stream full-length episodes of such programs like "Lost," "Grey's Anatomy," "Desperate Housewives," and more. Under terms of the new deal, Disney will join the video sharing site as a partner and according to un-named sources, take a 27 percent stake in the venture, DigitalDaily reports.
"From our landmark iTunes deal to our pioneering decision to stream ad supported shows on our ABC.com player, Disney has sought to meet the constantly evolving viewing habits of our consumers, and today’s Hulu announcement is the next important step in that ongoing journey," Disney CEO Bob Iger bloviated. "Disney and Hulu share a focus on delivering the highest-quality entertainment experience and we look forward to working with Hulu to build value for our consumers, our brands and our shareholders."
The deal should inject a ton of new content into Hulu, which according to a joint press release, will include full-length episodes of primetime programs, ABC Family series, ABC Daytime and SOAPnet shows, classic series from ABC's library (like "Who Wants to be a Millionaire", "Dancing with the Stars"), Disney Channel hits (like "Wizards of Waverly Place" and "Phineas and Ferb"), yet-to-be-determined library titles from The Walt Disney Studios, and short-form content.
YouTube, in an effort to continue expanding as a media hub for more than just low quality, user-made content, is trying to hash out a deal with Sony Pictures to secure licensing rights to some of the studio's full-length movies, CNet reports. Such a deal would help YouTube better compete with the likes Hulu, Netflix, and other web video services.
It was just a week ago that YouTube was able to license short-form content from Disney, which also includes Disney brands like ABC and ESPN. But when it comes to feature-length content -- a crucial component if YouTube is to compete with other streaming services -- YouTube has only been able to snag a small number of titles from MGM.
Neither company is commenting on the report, but it's not hard to see why each one would be interested. Sony Pictures acquired streaming video site Crackle in 2006 for a cool $65 million and has since posted a bevy of full-length films on the site. By licensing a handful of flicks to YouTube, Sony would be promoting its Crackle acquistion. And of course it makes sense for YouTube, which was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion three years ago.
Do you think is a good move for either company? Hit the jump and sound off.
TunerFreeMCE's Martin Millmore posted an example of what Hulu is doing to restrict its content, which at first meant that "no new programs will be added to Hulu in TunerFreeMCE at the moment." However, Millmore was quick to update the Vista MCE add-in to version 2.6.7, which he says works with Hulu's new encoding, albeit while running a fair bit slower.
According to Engadget, Boxee will also have an update available for Windows and Linux users before long with a workaround in place. Once that happens, it will be interesting to see how Hulu responds, who some feel is at the whim of its content providers, and not evil aliens (if such a separation exists).