|Posted on July 26, 2012 at 1:25 PM||comments (0)|
There are several newsworthy and interesting developments that are happening in the streaming and related industries. Here are the highlights:
Finally, the opening ceremony of the Olympics in London is tomorrow night, although the Men's & Women's Soccer events were live beginning yesterday morning. There are free live feed sources, including the NBC Olympics Live Extra, the official live streaming app of the 2012 summer Olympics for US viewers, available through iTunes. It's important to note that some of the features require a cable subscription authentification, but users can access a variety of alternative camera angles, access to full replays, and more. You can also watch video from the 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Canadian residents can access the CTV Olympics London 2012 free app as well.
Are you a photo buff? Check out Reuters Olympics London 2012 app.
|Posted on June 5, 2012 at 10:55 AM||comments (0)|
Many people ask why there are so few movies and shows available on Netflix Instant because they are unaware of the power they have in personalizing their queue. There are around 25,000 titles available on the service, so getting familiar with the genres and titles would be a good place to start in maximizing your experience. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the various areas of your account to make the most of your Instant Queue. We will discuss below parental controls and more.
When you log in to your account, the first screen you will see is called "Watch Instantly" (you'll see it listed in the top navigation), and it is arranged in several categories. Titles recently watched will be listed, along with Top 10 recommended titles based upon your viewing habits.
"Popular on Netflix" lists what titles are on demand from other subscribers.
The next couple of rows are based also on your viewing habits. For instance, in my account it seems I have an interest in Dora the Explorer and Glee. So based upon those taste preferences I have listed Feel-good TV shows, including Monk, America's Funniest Home Videos, Cake Boss, and The Andy Griffith Show.
For dramas, I can select categories like "Dark", "Griffy", "Critically-acclaimed", "Understated", "Crime", and "Independent" and then browse through the various selections listed.
The top navigation in your Netflix account has a tab titled "Just For Kids". If you have children, this is a great section to browse and add to your instant queue so that your kids can browse and select their own TV shows to watch. As you can guess, this page is of interest to me based upon the Dora the Explorer connection
The next page in the top navigation is your instant queue. This is where you can update the titles that you see when you turn your television on. I'm an avid exercise enthusiast, so part of the allure of Netflix for me is to check out workouts that I might not currently own. So after looking through the sports & fitness genre, I selected Crunch: Total Resculpt to add to my Instant Queue. Now when I fire up Netflix, it is one of the titles listed for quick selection. I could have also typed in the title in the search feature, but it was much easier for me to check the genre ahead of time to see what was available.
When you click on the "Personalize" tab, a screen will pop up that says "Finding suggestions for you just got easier . . . ". By rating shows you have seen, you will be providing valuable information to Netflix that will enable personalized suggestions available that you might not have easily found by browsing through their entire library. You will see genres listed such as documentaries, children & family movies, tv shows, dramas, etc. The more you rate what you've seen, the more Netflix gets smarter about shows that would appeal to you and your family.
After you complete this exercise, you'll notice that the top navigation changes from "Personalize" to "Taste Profile". You'll be able to go back in this area whenever you wish to rate shows an movies, update your "taste preferences", and view the titles you've rated.
The taste preferences page let's you see examples of various "moods". It seems in my queue we watch "family-friendly" titles a lot, romantic titles sometimes, and violent movies never. If I wanted to expand the titles I want to watch, I might venture into the "visionary" or "quirky" category and get some examples of titles from Netflix, which I can add to my instant queue to watch.
Your Account - Update Your Parental Controls and More
One thing I also did on my Netflix account was to update the parental control settings. I don't want my kids to have access to R rated content. The beauty of this is that you have to enter your password before you can change parental control settings. So - I can log into my Netflix account and let my kids browse the titles and add to the Instant Queue, but they will not be able to change the parental control settings. This feature gives Netflix the lead in the Netflix vs. Hulu debate, because Hulu currently has no parental control filters.
In the account area, you are also able to manage the settings for video quality, add other streaming devices, and manage devices that have access to your account. If you have any issues with how certain films stream (e.g. if they disconnect or buffer, but you don't have that problem with other titles), you can report problems with recently watched titles.
It really is a worthwhile exercise to spend some time personalizing your preferences and the instant queue, as well as exploring the hidden gems that Netflix has available that you might not have ever watched without having this service available.
|Posted on May 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM||comments (0)|
Supernatural is an American Drama Television series. The show was created by Eric Kripke and first debuted September 13, 2005. The story is about 2 brothers Sam and Dean who travel the country trying to hunt down the supernatural, mostly demons.One in particular that killed their mother when they were young boys. They show is suspenseful and exciting. I like that there is a lot of humor in the interactions between the 2 brothers making it an all around good show. It keeps you guessing and wanting to watch more to find out what is happening. Supernatural was originally planned for three seasons after An estimated 5.69 million views for the pilot episode prompted WB to pick up the show. It was then expanded to 5 seasons. The CW renewed the show for a 6th and 7th season.On Jan 12, 2012 the show won 2 awards at the peoples Choice Award for best SCI/FI TV series and best Drama series. The show as of May 3rd 2012 has been renewed for an 8th season. Currently on Netflix you can stream seasons 1-6 in HD. The show has many 4 and 5 star reviews from satisfied viewers.
When I was younger I liked the movie Stargate but I never really got into the shows like Stargate SG-1, Stargate Atlantis. However I was bored one day and decided to check out Stargate Universe on Netflix Streaming. I gotta say I was hooked. The show starts off as a multinational Exploration team gets attacked by another race of Humans from a different part of the Galaxy. They flee through a stargate not knowing where they are going or if it's safe. They end up aboard a abandoned ship called destiny that was built by what they call the Ancients. Stuck there with no way home or supplies they must figure out how to survive and learn the true meaning of Destiny's mission. The show has a more serious 21st century tone. The show premiered in the United States on Oct. 2, 2009 but unfortunately only ran for 2 seasons and ended on a cliff hanger. The plan was to make a movie to finish the show but due to time constraints executive producer and writer Brad Wright announced that it was not going to happen. I like the show because it stays true to a story line and you find yourself able to identify with the cast as they go through good times and bad. Many people who watched this show pray for it to be picked up by another network.
Jericho is more of a action/adventure type drama series that takes place in rural Kansas. Although not classified as Sci-Fi, it does have that fantasy end of the world feel that people who enjoy Sci-Fi usually like. This small town is cut off from the rest of the world when 23 major US cities get hit with nuclear bombs. At first they try to figure out what is happening as there is no longer any communications. Dealing with limited resources and trying to fight off both internal and external threats the town tries to bring order to itself.One of the new residents who showed up just before the bombs exploded seems to know more about whats going on then he's leading people to believe. With the country in ruins many new governments pop up and try to claim power over the country. It's a fight for survival. I liked the series due to the fantasy aspect of the show, as in what would really happen and how would we survive if something like this took place. The show was originally canceled after the first season due to low ratings but a Fan base campaign was able to get the network to bring the show back for a second season of 7 episodes. Jericho was ranked #11 on TV Guide's Top Cult Shows Ever. This too like Stargate ended on a cliff hanger.
The Event is another Sci-Fi TV show available to watch on Netflix. The show Created by Nick Wauters originally aired on NBC from September 20,2010 to May 13, 2011. The plot for this series is based around a group of extraterrestrials that have been detained for 60 years after their ship crashed in remote Alaska. They appear to be human on the outside however their DNA is slightly different and they age much slower, looking the same as they did when they arrived here. Some of the extraterrestrials escaped after the ship crashed and have immersed themselves into the population. When President Martinez learns of the detainees he plans to bring this knowledge of an extraterrestrial existence to the public and release them, however he is met with a assassination attempt. The attempt on his life is foiled by technology beyond our own. Realizing there are extraterrestrials roaming around free, The intelligence agency makes plans to hunt them down. Sean Walker played by Jason Ritter find himself in the middle of this conspiracy. While on a cruise with his girlfriend Leila she mysteriously disappears. His search for her leads him to discover the assassination attempt. This show has quite the fan base even though it was canceled due to ratings. Many people hope that someone will pick it up for a second season as this too ended on a major cliff hanger. IMBD has a viewer rating of 7 out of 10 for this series.
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead is a post-apocalyptic drama series based on the comic book series by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. The show is on the AMC network and Premiered October 31,2010.If you haven't seen this show yet I'm surprised! It had over 9 million viewers for it's season 2 finale making it the most watched basic cable drama telecast in history. Andrew Lincoln is sheriff deputy Rick Grimes who wakes up from a coma after being shot to find the world he knew is gone. Alone and confused in a world taken over by zombies, he sets out to try and find his wife and son. I reason I think this show is so popular is because of how it differs from the zombie movies we all know of from the past. Your not going to find cheesy humor in this show. They made a serious story of survival, compassion and connections as the group of survivors deal with the horrors in this new world both living and dead. Having a sizable budget for the show doesn't hurt either. While the first season dealt mostly with people banding together against the dead, season 2 begins to show the danger of dealing with other survivors as well. While I'm sure everyone has at least heard of this show, if you have not seen it yet your missing out.Currently only the first season is available to stream on Netflix since the second season has not yet been released on DVD.
|Posted on May 19, 2012 at 11:35 AM||comments (0)|
After what seemed to be a rocky start to 2012, with news outlets and bloggers focusing on Netflix's 2011 mis-steps, things are heating up in a very good way for the top streaming movie provider in the world! Let's take a look at some of the nifty new things that Netflix is doing, and how they are positively impacting streaming enthusiasts:
You can find out more about a subscription at our comparison page.
|Posted on May 8, 2012 at 9:50 AM||comments (0)|
One of the things that people say is a Netflix negative is the lack of a large selection of new blockbuster releases. That's about to change due to the combination of an exclusive streaming license agreement it has with cable channel Epix, which is a joint venture between Viacom, MGM and Lionsgate, which backed the popular blockbuster The Hunger Games. Also expected to join the Netflix lineup is The Avengers in 2013. Another popular series available on Netflix right now is The Walking Dead, which boasted 9 million viewers for the second season finale. AMC should be releasing the 2nd season to Netflix most likely this summer. Anders Bylund says "If Hunger Games and The Walking Dead don't motivate a significant influx of new Netflix subscribers in the second half of 2012, I'll buy a hat just so I can eat it." We concur, Anders!
Not everyone is happy about Neflix - particularly cable and satellite TV providers who bundle hundreds of channels into a highly priced but convenient package for subscribers. Yesterday, Dish Nework said that it decided to drop AMC and a bunch of other channels from their lineup because streaming services like Netflix are devaluing them by making them available on multiple outlets. Dish Chairman & CEO Charles Ergen says "Those particular channels are also available to our customers through a variety of other sources, like iTunes, Amazon and Netflix."
It's scarcity that makes programming more expensive to consumers, but there comes a time when scarcity backfires on the entity making it difficult and expensive for consumers to access the content. It's actually laughable that Ergen makes this statement with a straight face after The Walking Dead's 2nd season finale. It's my guess that Dish is trying to scare AMC into eliminating it's agreement with online content providers in order to restore precious scarcity, so that they don't begin to lose their paying subscribers to these streaming services. Additionally, because AMC programming has done so well, they increased their costs to Dish and other satellite and cable companies by 35 cents a subscriber. AMC only provides it's former season's libraries to Netflix, but new programming is made available to bundled Pay TV subscription providers.
Ergren is correct when he notes that his customers are resistant to paying more money for their subscription. Market forces are screaming for a la carte choices instead of these mega bundles where we are forced to pay an unaffordable monthly fee for a modest amount of programming. Both entertainment companies and satellite/cable TV companies are nervous about their fragile business models right now. It's my belief that the reason Hulu.com may resort to an authentication requirement is because they are being pressured by their collective owners, despite their announcement that they made millions in advertising fees. By making anyone wishing to stream on it's free platform prove they are already cable or satellite TV subscribers, they are in essence trying to force consumers to *not* cut the cord.
Christophor Rick of www.reelseo.com noted that they may gain the attention of the U.S. Government in possible ant-trust issues because of what looks like bullying tactics to force people to refrain from cutting the cord. But even if the government says "hey, they can do whatever they want," it's my guess that they will lose significant advertising revenues, and they will probably anger more people into cutting the cord when they realize the manipulation tactics. Rick believes that's why Providence Equity Partners sold their shares to the other ownners.
Rick also pointed out that much of the content on Hulu is free over-the-air in most markets. There could be a whole lot more antenna sales going on, and if pay TV makes it to streaming like with services Aereo or Skitter TV, it will likely be the straw that breaks the camels, or the business model's, back.
Also, many entertainment companies are keenly aware that it is the popularity of streaming services like Netflix that are actually boosting the ratings of shows that people might not otherwise tune into. By being able to watch old libraries of content, viewers are developing an appetite for newly released content. Of course, then we also develop a group of cord cutters who are willing to wait for the next season's library, and that's precisely what has cable and satellite providers nervous.
Check out Netflix pros and cons to see if it's right for you.
|Posted on May 1, 2012 at 10:25 PM||comments (0)|
All ten episodes of the highly-anticipated season four of television show Arrested Development being backed as original programming by Netflix will be made available to Netflix subscribers en masse in 2013 (date yet to be announced), for those of you who like to hole up over an entire weekend and stream episode after episode (you know who you are ).
The cult classic is known for developing elaborate albeit subtle jokes (and the ridiculous characters associated with them) rather slowly, and it's important to catch all the episodes to understand the tongue in cheek content. While the humor is brilliant, it was difficult for viewers to understand it with only a weekly broadcast, particularly if you miss an episode here or there. Netflix has resurrected and increased the shows popularity, and has added a major following because of the afore-mentioned TV fest that viewers can enjoy, and watch over again, in order to truly appeciate the show's humor.
Another Netflix original programming possibility is cancelled show Jericho, which after two seasons - 2006 to 2008 - bit the dust because of low ratings. The plot was built around a small community in Kansas after the United States experienced a series of nuclear attacks. The show developed a very loyal cult following.
Netflix has been getting into the original programming business rather aggressively - a very good move to differentiate it from other streaming providers, as well as entice new subscribers to check out the service, and even entertain the idea of cord trimming or cutting.
|Posted on April 10, 2012 at 10:15 AM||comments (0)|
On April 6, 2012, Netflix sent out an email to some of it's customers:
Since you’ve put your membership on vacation hold in the past, we’re writing to let you know about some upcoming changes to how it works.
Starting in May, you’ll still be able to cancel and restart your membership while you’re away on vacation with no loss of your Queue, personal settings or membership information. What’s changing is that Netflix will no longer resume your service and billing automatically. Instead, you’ll let us know when you’re ready to start watching movies & TV episodes again by simply visiting the website to restart your membership.
From time to time, we change some features to simplify our service. We hope you found this email helpful. If you have questions, please call us any time at 1-888-357-1516.
–The Netflix Team
In the past, you would have to set a re-activation date at the time you set your hold on your account. Billing would re-start on the re-activation date. Now, you simply have to manually restart your account. You will not lose any Netflix movies or TV shows saved in your queue, even if you place it on hold for an entire 12 weeks.
|Posted on April 6, 2012 at 9:05 AM||comments (0)|
One of the best things available for consumers is more than one solid choice. This keeps things more of a "buyers market" where we have lots of good options, and all we have to do is select the best fit for us. So far in the Netflix vs Hulu debate, Netflix wins in parental controls, particularly with their "Just For Kids" programming that is appropriate for children 12 and younger.
Both Netflix and Hulu are investing in original content that can only be found through their services. They both get a thumbs up in that area. Hulu.com gets a big thumbs up for having recently aired content available for a limited time in case you missed an episode of your favorite show and just can't wait until it finally makes it to a streaming service. Their new, improved web player sweetens the experience.
In the past, Hulu Plus has always been a solid winner when it comes to TV selection, particularly in the vast selection of several seasons' episodes. However, Netflix is definitely gaining some serious ground scoring important licensing agreements with major entertainment companies.
Netflix Wins This Round: Hasbro Content Added April 5
Los Angeles based Hastro Studios has announced a multi-year deal with Netflix, where very popular programming, including both new and catalogged seasons content, will now be available to watch instantly on Netflix. Content available includes:
Later in 2012, more content will be added, including:
Cindy Holland, Vice President of Content Acquisition at Netflix states "We are very excited to be working wth Hasbro Studios. This deal allows us to offer even more great kids' programming to our members, both adults and kids alike, including new seasons of My Little Pony, Transformers Prime, and Pound Puppies after the season finale airs on The Hub."
|Posted on April 4, 2012 at 6:00 AM||comments (0)|
Almost daily there are articles published online that Netflix is facing huge competitive forces from various other streaming providers in the marketplace. In fact, many are looking with great interest at Amazon Prime as being a major threat to Netflix because of the significant increases to their streaming library the last few months, plus the fact that they are only $79 per year, versus Netflix's $96 per year. But let's take a look at the facts. Netflix's library has around 35,000 titles. Amazon has a respectable 17,000, but it will be a stretch for them to be able to compete with them in terms of content selection.
Additionally, Netflix has something that many parents of children value - parental controls! Amazon Prime's library is completey open, and they admittedly do not have any way to protect children from seeing content that is near pornographic in some people's opinions. Is that worth the difference in price - $17 a year to keep your kids much safer? Not to knock Amazon Prime at all - I think there is a definite market for that service, particularly if you are already an avid Amazon shopper, and would like free 2-day shipping on everything you order. The service is killer for the price.
Another reason why I believe Netflix will win out overall . . . television copyrght holders are beginning to love streaming services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. In fact, these services are proving to be very valuable in bumping up Nielsen ratings on new episodes of television shows who have past episodes available to them through these streaming outlets. Strong Nielsen ratings mean two things - increased advertising revenues, and longer season runs.
Finally, what else will you get for your extra $17 a year? Netflix has spent a lot of money developing algorithms based upon your viewing habits to serve up title suggestions that it thinks you will enjoy. What a great way to be exposed to it's vast library, even if you're not sure what you're looking for, or where you are looking.
|Posted on March 30, 2012 at 10:10 AM||comments (0)|
Despite Netflix's rocky road travelled in 2011, it still has plenty of opportunity to come out strong compared to any of it's competition. The fact that video streaming subscriptions are beginning to outpace the number of units of physical media being sold is ancillary testimony to this, because Netflix still is the industry standard when it comes to a subscription service that most consumers want.
Because movie entertainment conglomerates wish to more tightly control the distribution of their blockbuster releases, one thing that has been noticeably lacking in streaming libraries is new releases of the movies that people want to see. But one interesting phenomena has come out of this - TV copyright holders have been more than open to giving services like Netflix and Hulu the licensing agreements to rebroadcast their content on demand. Many of these shows have experienced a serious bump in Nielsen ratings after past seasons have been made available on these services.
Nielsen ratnigs are captured via electronic metering technology through TV sets, which notes which channel and which TV show is being viewed, as well as for how long it is viewed.. The viewing of these shows via stream is not currently benig captured, but interestingly, several shows that have multiple seasons under their belts are experiencing a serious boost in Nielsen ratings since they have been made available via online distribution. The fact that services like Netflix have the ability to increase the ratings of televsion shows is not lost on entertainment companies, because higher Nielsen ratings mean that advertisers are more willing to pay a higher price point for a slot on that particular show
Video streaming might have another surprising effect on television. It may prolong the number of seasons that some shows are demanded, because new viewers are able to catch up on how the show's characters have grown and changed over the years.
It is unclear how everything will shake out in terms of how entertainment companies who own the rights of movies will interact with this new breed of entertainment distribution, but if consumers have any clout, these conglomerates will take note that as DVD and Blu-ray sales decline, and piracy is on the rise, it's time to fight fire with fire and give the people what they want. This will mean a different business model to retain profits, but it may mean forgoing some profits and learning to live a bit more lean like all the rest of us have had to do in this tough economy..