The release of the Boxee Box finally seems at hand. Boxee and manufacturer D-Link announced today that the hardware has been finalized and should ship in early November. Of note, the box will no longer be running on Nvidia's Tegra 2 chipset. Instead, users will get a Boxee Box powered by the Intel CE4100 Atom chip.
The product was supposed to go on sale in June, but the date came and went with no firm plans. It looks like some of the delays may have been related to the effort to make the Tegra 2 work. In the end, Boxee's VP of Marketing, Andrew Kippen claims that video format support just wasn't good enough with Nvidia's solution.
The Bozee Box promises to bring consumers access to a wide range of video online via Flash and HTML5. Pre-orders are currently up at Amazon for $199. How do you think this stacks up against cheaper, but more limited, options like AppleTV and Roku?
Any way you slice it, companies that are already in the online video business are looking to get deeper in. Reports indicate that Amazon is working to expand their video offerings to include TV and movies from the likes of NBC, Time Warner, and Viacom. The new service would likely be viewable on devices Amazon currently uses for video. Devices like the Roku, Xbox 360, and PC would all fall into this category.
Amazon currently charges $1.99 for many individual TV episodes. The new streaming service would probably be a subscription affair, or would offer cheaper prices. Amazon may provide free subscriptions to current Amazon Prime members, who pay $79 per year for unlimited 2-day shipping on purchases.
As usual, the viability of this strategy is reliant on content creators signing on. No word on that yet, but Amazon will want to hurry if the Apple rumors about $0.99 streaming rentals on iTunes are real.
Now that Hulu Plus has been live for two months, everyone has had time to dissect the selection. To everyone's dismay, the content offered on the $10 per month service is looking a little scant. A new analysis by research firm One Touch Intelligence says that of all the shows on Hulu Plus, over 88% of them are already free on Hulu.
For that extra $10 dollars, it would seem you're not getting a huge amount of new content. When looking at the raw numbers, it might be a little more comforting. Out of the 28,000 episodes on Hulu Plus, 3,345 of them are only for paid subscribers. It is a few thousand shows, many of them popular current programs.
But still, most users are unimpressed with the current selection. Hulu Plus is still in preview, and has only been operating for 60 days. As time goes on, more content will likely be added. It will be interesting to see where Hulu Plus stands when it is no longer calling itself a preview.
As we barrel headlong into a future of HTML5 video online, many have wondered aloud if the closed H.264 video codec is the way to go. The company that manages the patent pool for the video compression standard, MPEG LA, has made an announcement today aimed at quelling those fears. According to MPEG LA, they will never charge for the use of the codec in free video streams.
The open source Firefox browser has refused to include the closed H.264 codec this far. Google itself has been developing an open alternative called WebM. HTML5 is not tied to H.264, and could theoretically use any codec, but H.264 has the early lead. More than likely, any HTML5 video you've ever seen has been H.264.
The announcement from MPEG LA is certainly good, but it leaves a lot of wiggle-room. Paid streams might still need to pay licensing fees down the road. Companies using H.264 encoders/decoders would also have to pay up. MPEG LA has also made noise about assembling a patent pool to go after anyone using WebM. So even that standard may not end up royalty free. What do you think should be the format of the future?
Sources are reporting that Apple is in talks with several major networks to begin offering 99-cent TV show rentals on the iTunes platform. Talks with News Corp. are apparently barreling ahead, while deals with CBS and Disney are looking solid as well. This new arrangement could be part of Apple's announcement at the annual Fall iPod event expected to be held next month.
If successful, these deals would offer users of Apple's iTunes ecosystem to access a much larger catalog of content on a rental basis. The files are expected to be available for purchase within 24 hours of air date, and will be commercial free. Amid the rumors of a $99 Apple TV relaunch (maybe called iTV), this new pricing structure could be very tempting for many consumers.
With options like Netflix working hard to expand selection for a flat rate, do you think a rental system like this will succeed?
Hulu is quickly taking over the market for online streaming television, and the company may be ready to test its importance by going public. An initial public offering (IPO) is said to be in the works, and the company may end up valued at around $2 billion. The move could happen as early as this fall.
Hulu is partially owned by News Corp, Disney, and NBC. The comany has seen small, but steady profits as of late, $100 million last year. This makes the possibility of a $2 billion valuation confusing. Analysts are cautious citing the weak IPO market. Hulu's saving grace could be the high volume of ads thy serve, 566 million in June. Investors may also see hope in Hulu's new $9.99 Hulu Plus service.Will you be snapping up Hulu stock in the event of an IPO?
As if people needed another excuse to use Facebook, UK's Channel Five has decided to use the social networking site as a content delivery platform. According to a NewMediaAge report, Five is close to becoming the first broadcaster to show programs on Facebook. “All systems go” is how NMA's sources described the deal between Five and Facebook. They also revealed that Five will begin delivering TV content through Facebook “within the next week to ten days.” The TV shows will be delivered by embedding Demand Five, Five's TV-on-demand player, into Facebook. UK's Facebook population stands at 26 million.
We recently told you about the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) attempting to get IP addresses of suspected pirates from Ustream and Juntin.tv. UFC's parent company Zuffa LLC claimed that several IP addresses were streaming pay-per-view UFC content to tens of thousands of individuals. Zuffa is only pursuing those accused of streaming the content, not the viewers. Today, Ustream has announced that they have complied with the subpoena and handed over the IP addresses.
Ustream has gone a step further by updating their video monitoring tools to take down copyrighted content more quickly. Zuffa's CEO, Lorenzo Fertitta seemed to make it clear in recent House Judiciary Committee testimony that they would be pursuing this matter aggressively. He claimed in his testimony that UFC was losing "tens of millions" because of these streams. Maybe fuzzy math, but Ustream took them seriously. Juntin.tv has not said if they complied with the order as of yet.
Do you think Zuffa should be going after the streamers like this, or is there another way?
Remember the other day when the hot rumor was that Redbox would be taking on Netflix with a streaming service? Well, it looks like they're going to have more of a deficit to make up than we thought. Netflix has just announced that their overall subscriber count has jumped 42% since last year. The numbers, while in line with Netflix's predictions, and pretty substantial in our estimation, were not up to analyst expectations, and Netflix stock is trading down about 10%.
Another interesting tidbit from Netflix's quarterly statement is that 61% of their customers streamed at least one TV show or movie during the quarter. Clearly, people have embraced the streaming service in a big way. Raw revenue was up only 27% over last year, indicating that many customers were opting for cheaper plans, that still include the streaming service. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even called the demand for Netflix Watch Instantly "astounding".
Are you a new customer to Netflix? Let us know how you use the service. Is it just the occasional disc and lots of streaming, or do you prefer to get the physical media as much as possible?
You may be familiar with the Redbox DVD rental kiosks, but company president Mitch Lowe hinting at the next step for Redbox. In a recent interview, Lowe discussed their intention to expand the selection beyond what can be crammed into their kiosks. This isn't likely to be a shipping model like Netflix mostly relies on, but a streaming service.
Rumored pricing is only $3.95 per month for unlimited streaming and four kiosk rental a month. By comparison, Netflix plans start at $8.99 per month for streaming and a single mailed DVD at a time. The make or break element of Redbox's service would be the selection. Netflix has famously sought to get newer movies on their streaming service, but the selection is still lacking top content. Could Redbox come from nowhere and surpass Netflix?
If this plan actually come to fruition, Blockbuster is likely to be the biggest loser. The video rental chain is already on the verge of bankruptcy, and a new push from Redbox could do them in.