Archives For Netflix

AOL Shifts (Video) Gears

Dave Zatz —  December 3, 2007 — 4 Comments

There seems to be a consolidation of web video services in the works… presumably driven by the costs of hosting and managing these online efforts.

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AOL started by announcing plans to dump their higher-def streaming option (“Hi-Q”), saying the user count is: “very small, so small that we haven’t tracked it.â€? Part of the challenge is Windows-only playback coupled with a separate download as barriers to entry. Additionally, I’d argue that making visitors specifically seek out the better quality content also limited their success. Similarly, it appears CBS is opposed to higher def content if it requires a dedicated player: “Last thing you want to do is put another hurdle against people watching network television online.â€? (Realted – Brightcove is shuttering their direct-to-consumer video services.) The crux of this issue may be DRM… Flash video can’t provide the HD resolutions that protected Microsoft WMV can. While Adobe is beta testing H.264-encoded video through the Flash player, it’s not clear that this content is protected in ways that will keep studios calm. And the argument is being made that consumer expectations are lower with web video, that we’d prefer speed and selection over quality.

AOL followed their Hi-Q announcement by ceasing to distribute paid video downloads. Instead, they’re now reselling Amazon Unbox television and movie content. Om reports video will, of course, be featured within video.aol.comand relevant search results. Over 20,000 Unbox videos are live and the transition should be completed later this week.

And while we’re discussing online video, NBC may have pulled their content from iTunes this weekend but it’s alive and well via Hulu, Amazon Unbox, and now Netflix. I’m surprised they went through with it, and I owe someone $5…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  November 12, 2007 — Leave a comment

A periodic roundup of relevant news… from our other blogs:

blockbuster-small1.jpgJust three months ago, I discussed why Netflix had already won the DVD Rental War against Blockbuster. It now seems that the company’s struggles have really taken hold and mainstream media agrees that it’s time to say goodbye to Blockbuster.

In their third-quarter results, Blockbuster reported a decline in revenue of over 5% and a net loss of $35 million. They’ve also closed over 500 stores in the past year and are now watching their stock price falter to $4.81 at Friday’s close.

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For more gruesome Blockbuster analysis, continue reading at Brent Evans Geek Tonic.

What the heck are you thinking, Netflix? I understand and support your goal to minimize disc theft, but you really need to do some more testing in the labs before unleashing this half-baked sticker scheme on your customers. Whatever human or machine applied the anti-theft measure didn’t properly center it on the bottom of the disc, leading my laptop DVD drive to noisily thrash around without video playback. Fortunately, with the help of a ragged fingernail and a Marriott washcloth I removed both the sticker and glue goop to watch Dexter. Good thing too, because I know how Dexter handles evildoers.

Several months ago Netflix brought on Anthony Wood (founder of ReplayTV) to “deliver movies directly to subscribers’ televisions via the Internetâ€?- substantiating years of set-top box rumors and speculation. It now appears they’re closer to making it a reality given a recent Netflix trademark update filing:

Computer hardware, set top boxes and computer software, namely audio and video receivers and transmitters and computer software programs enabling receipt, download, playing, viewing, and rental of audio and video programming through the use of internet connections to computer hardware and receiver and transmitter apparatuses that connect to a television set or monitor.

If you’re taking requests, Netflix, I’d like to suggest maintaining the current online viewing fee structure (with super-size upsell options) and introducing hardware @ $199 with $50 price reductions every six months to hit the 99 dollar magic number within a year. Can you succeed where others (Akimbo, Moviebeam) have failed?