Netflix has announced the addition of 300 titles from several independent film distributers including The Criterion Collection, Gravitas Ventures, Kino Lorber, Music Box Films, Oscilloscope Laboratories and Regent Releasing. If the titles aren’t available for streaming now, Netflix says they will be available early next year. (Next year? Your guess is as good as mine.) However, some deals with the distributors include new releases as they become available while under contract.
The big news this week comes in the form of announcements from online services to require subscriptions or fees for certain content. YouTube and Hulu have been part of the talk, although Hulu’s fees are still rumored. Both follow the Wednesday news that The New York Times is planning a subscription program in which a limited amount of content would be offered free, but additional content would have to be paid for.
Nintendo Wii owners will be able to access unlimited streaming media from Netflix this spring. Users will access video-on-demand content (aka, Netflix’s ever-expanding library) the same way that PlayStation 3 owners currently do: by disc. The big caveat for Wii owners is that, though they access the service via a broadband connection much like PS3 and Xbox owners, the Wii itself does not support high-definition video, topping out at 480 scanlines for a good ol’ standard-def experience. Wii owners will not be able to play back the HD content from Netflix, but they will have access to it for the bare minimum subscription that Netflix requires with no extra charge, unlike Xbox 360 owners who pay a hefty $50-a-year to access what PS3 users generally get for free.
VUDU announced it will expand its streaming services this year to select HDTVs and Blu-ray players from LG, Mitsubishi, Samsung, SANYO, Sharp, Toshiba and VIZIO. LG was the first to offer VUDU on HDTVs last year, and this year 32 models from the company will be VUDU ready.
Yes it’s CES time for just about every major newspaper and tech-journal, but one announcement of importance this week hasn’t come from there, but directly from Warner Bros., which has announced it’s no longer going to immediately provide new releases to Netflix on their rental-ready street date. Instead, Warners is hoping to set a trend for other studios and content producers to follow by creating a sell-through only window for these new disc releases.
Via the news wires this morning… Vivendi S.A. is now poised to give their blessing to one of the biggest media deals this decade: a merger of Comcast with NBC/Universal that would create a joint venture largely controlled by Comcast. What could this mean for VOD fans of online content that is now free for the viewing?
Independent film “Born of Hope” is a 70-minute independent film inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings books. The film pre-dates Lord of the Rings and tells the story of Aragorn’s parents, Arathorn and Gilraen. Dailymotion will broadcast the film in HD starting Dec. 1.
The PlayStation 3 presents itself as many things… a highly advanced gaming device, a top-notch (reference quality) Blu-ray player, and an Internet enabled pathway to a world of downloadable games, movies, television and BD-Live enabled content. Most everything I’ve tapped into thus far has either met or exceeded my expectations for the PS3 Slim; however, there’s always those items that aren’t so great (the PS3’s web-browser is terrible, with limited access to some of the most popular sites… yes, you can get your web-enabled email, but what about access to Hulu? No dice! Might as well be living behind a firewall in China).
Good news for Netflix customers and Sony Bravia HDTV owners. Netflix will now stream to Sony BRAVIA Internet Video-capable HDTVs, previous BRAVIA models compatible with Sony’s BRAVIA Internet video link module, and the Sony Network Blu-ray Disc Player.
Just this week Netflix made available a special disc that allows its streaming movie service on Playstation 3 consoles. Once you get the disc (and it arrives usually next day after ordering), you insert the disc into the Playstation 3 to get an activation code. You then log-in to your Netflix account online and enter the code.
Netflix is officially ready to roll on Playstation 3 systems, and the partners are offering a free two-week trial which includes both home delivery and streaming services. But two weeks seems a bit stingy don’t you think? I guess you don’t gain any advantage being a PSN member, as this is the same offer any new Netflix member gets.
Apple’s iTunes has added a bunch of new HD content including Disney hit titles Bolt, Hannah Montana: The Movie, and the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy. With the HD movie purchase you also get smaller iPhone and iPod versions in standard definition.
The L.A. Times this morning reports that Best Buy will be going the pure digital route, and offer content direct to the consumer with possible music and video-on-demand services. As the market for DVD’s continues to shrink, it seems the new Blu-ray format doesn’t even seem to be getting a fighting chance amid consumer interest in getting content via broadband rather than through physical discs.
Apple has redesigned its Apple TV user interface, launching Apple TV 3.0 which is designed to make navigation quicker and easier. Purchased and rented content can now be accessed on the main menu, and additional features have been added. The software update download is free to Apple TV owners.
Epix HD and Epix standard-definition will launch on Verizon’s FiOS TV network this Friday, Oct. 30. The Verizon-exclusive service (a deal reached in July ’09) will also launch online, providing FiOS TV/Internet subscribers with 150 movies per month. This weekend, the network will offer a free preview and feature a two-hour Madonna concert “Sticky & Sweet: Live from Buenos Aires.”
Love the ability of Netflix and other DVD rental services to have that new flick available from the moment it’s released for sale? Well, those days might be over, very soon. As the Los Angeles Times reports this morning, the major studios, suffering from a cratering of DVD sales due to the format’s saturation as well as the success of rental delivery services like Netflix, new threats from DVD-kiosk upstarts Redbox, and the lingering recession, are now fighting back against consumer disinterest by threatening to withhold new releases from the rental market.
Apple and PC manufacturers are set to release upgraded hardware technology this week in anticipation of Microsoft’s Windows 7 release. Apple’s upgrades are simply shots across the Win7 bow, but PC manufacturers are gearing up for Win7 by utilizing high-definition screens as well as touch-screens compliant with the updated OS.
Free Video on Demand service via the web (Web-VOD) may take a huge popularity hit should Comcast Corp. move forward in a possible merger of assets that includes NBC-Universal’s Bravo, SyFy (formerly SciFi) and Hulu.com properties.
Time Warner Cable NYC launched Time Warner Cable Wideband Internet and Business Class Wideband Internet, delivering internet speeds up to 50 Mbps download, and 5 Mbps upload. Residential customers can have up to five devices simultaneously using the network.
The LG BD390 Blu-ray Disc player will add streaming HD service from VUDU later this month, via a free automatic upgrade. The new service allows BD390 owners to buy or rent movies and TV shows from VUDU’s HD library.