TechCrunch wrote an article today which reports 600,000 television viewers pulled-the-plug on paid subscriptions in 2009 (adding up to about 800,000 over the last two years). The article, (citing a report from Convergence Consulting Group), estimates 1.6 million people will use other methods of watching television shows and movies (including over-the-internet and over-the-air) by the end of 2011. The studies from Convergence attribute much of the decline in paid subscribers to the growth of online viewing, using websites such as Hulu and Netflix.
Last week Comcast won a big victory in the U.S. Court of Appeals that threatens the F.C.C.’s ability to regulate the Internet (in this case, keeping it wide open via the guiding principal of network neutrality).
As well as adding titles from Universal to their library, Netflix has also announced a distribution deal with Twentieth Century Fox. The agreement covers digital and disc media formats for both television shows and motion pictures. Instant streaming for Fox TV shows, with some available as entire seasons, is a first for Netflix.
Netflix has added more Universal titles to its DVD, Blu-ray and streaming library, as well as signing a distribution agreement with the studio that firms up a delay window for new releases. The 28-day window will allow Universal to maximize their sales of discs and digital downloads during that time.
Blockbuster has made new deals with Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment and Sony Pictures Home Entertainment to provide customers with day-and-date titles from stores or by mail. Last month Blockbuster also renewed an agreement with Warner Bros. to provide new titles immediately to customers.
Did Hulu rip its name off?
A Canadian company called Hulavision is suing Hulu and NBC Universal on the grounds that its business model and name were stolen. The Canadian company claims it had confidential meetings about Hulavision which NBC Universal was to keep confidential. Read Story
Blockbuster has renewed a previous agreement with Warner Bros. to offer new titles immediately for rental by mail or in-store. Movies include today’s release of The Blind Side and next Tuesday’s (Mar. 30) release of Sherlock Holmes. The renewal continues a 25-year relationship between the two companies. The existing digital agreement will stay in-tact.
Perhaps you heard toward the end of last week about the Viacom/YouTube tussle going before the courts. While it’s not specifically HD related, and the case is now three-years old, the legal wrangling is fun to watch and does have some impact on the quality of videos you’ll see on YouTube as well as YouTube’s potential beyond infantile humor related posts and bad 80’s music videos.
Although Hulu recently lost popular Viacom content from “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and “The Colbert Report”, they may make up for some lost viewership with the addition of content from NFL Network. The NFL channel on Hulu (http://www.hulu.com/nfl) is featuring nine football categories including 149 “Game of the Week” episodes, 18 “Greatest Games” episodes, and 43 “Super Bowl Highlights.” Each team also has its own sub-channel (For example http://www.hulu.com/nfl/carolina-panthers) which makes its easier to find content for a certain team rather than browsing through categories.
Terrific news for some mobile users on the Netflix front: iPhone and Nintendo DS users may have to wait a while, but Netflix chief Reed Hastings and staff have already sent out surveys to gauge what consumers desire when it comes to mobile use of the streaming service. According to HackingNetflix.com, the company is gathering user interest to determine the possibility of an iPhone app (and Nintendo DS interface) with 30 second load times, the ability to fast-forward/rewind and pause the stream, and basically get all the functions and features of Netflix Instant Watch without advertisements similar to the Xbox, PS3 and Wii versions of the streaming service.
[Editor’s Note: For a more recent Netflix vs. Blockbuster article, read this.]
Why is Netflix winning the movie rental race? We looked at base plans for both Blockbuster and Netflix — one a brick and mortar movie rental giant with a few thousand stores and kiosks opening nationwide, and the other a movie-by-mail enterprise which has taken the market by storm. First let’s look at what they are offering.
Hulu suffered a major setback as of yesterday with the announcement that two of its most popular offerings would no longer be available to the service. Though Hulu will still carry links to the shows on the site, Viacom has pulled “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart” and the off-shoot show “The Colbert Report” from Hulu, and will offer full episodes and excerpts viewable through their Comedy Central website going forward (still free and advertiser supported).
There was disappointment in December ’09 when the released Boxee beta application dropped support for AppleTV. But, support is now back and already hacked AppleTVs with the old Boxee app just have to run the Boxee beta upgrade via the AppleTV Launcher > Downloads menu.
Don’t know how we missed this but late last week Hulu added the Criterion Collection channel, starting with six films from the “Zatoichi” series of Japanese films. There are 26 “Zatoichi” films in total dated from 1962 until 1989. (A remake of the original was released in 2003.) The films are also known as “Zatoichi: The Blind Swordsman” and are titled as such on Hulu.com. Criterion says they will be adding more films soon. Check out the new channel on Hulu.
Retail behemoth Wal-Mart aquired Vudu, Inc. today in a deal with terms undisclosed. Vudu, the struggling HD streaming service that was on the verge of extinction, had attempted to lure gadget freaks, movie-lovers and general consumers to its service by way of a pricy ($400) set-top box that really never caught on and spelled certain doom for the company as other, less-exclusive services, simply made alliances to be carried by myriad HD hardware manufacturers. Even after ditching the receiver box concept, the combined competition from the likes of Netflix, Hulu and Boxee, meant that Vudu was never quite able to mainstream itself.
Retail giant Wal-Mart will now enter the internet movie delivery world currently dominated by Netflix, by purchasing Santa Clara, CA based Vudu within the next couple weeks. With the acquisition, Wal-Mart will now be in direct competition with Netflix who offers movies by mail, internet on PCs, and streaming to your HDTV.
Arguably the best shootout in film history, Michael Mann’s Heat looks fantastic in HD and is now available streaming on-demand from Netflix. Al Pacino plays a cop hot on the trail of a bank robber played by Robert De Niro. This film is close to 3 hours and worth every minute of it. (1995, R)
HBO Go (hbogo.com), a new online service providing movies and TV shows at no additional charge to HBO subscribers, launched exclusively for Verizon FiOS TV customers. The streaming MPEG-4 video format (delivered via Flash media) will stream at either 1.2 Mbps or 2.6 Mbps depending on your connection speed.
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.