Archives For Netflix

Netflix recently updated its mobile app to run on all Android 2.2 and 2.3 devices, and this morning I idly decided to try it out on my HTC Thunderbolt while procrastinating from other work. I was doubtful I’d remember our Netflix login, or that the app would work well over 4G or coffee-house Wi-Fi, but lo and behold, after about 90 seconds I had a working Netflix player in my hand. And it works like magic.

First off, the Netflix app immediately pulled up recently-watched items, and there at the top was Phineas and Ferb. In one click I was suddenly watching the episode my daughter started this morning, beginning right at the point where I shut off the TV an hour ago so we could head off to school. (Yes, I am that parent.) The app knew what we’d been watching and was able to resume play as if I’d never switched to another device in another location. That may seem mundane to some, but having watched the cable industry aim at fixed-mobile convergence for years, I find it pretty breathtaking. Netflix offers a true continuous experience across devices and networks, no configuration gymnastics required. Most other TV doesn’t work like that yet.

For the PQ hounds out there, the Netflix quality on a mobile device probably doesn’t cut it, but in a pinch, or when you find yourself in the doctor’s office waiting room, it’s a pretty good deal. As iOS users – and owners of a handful of Android phones that were supported early – already know, the app lets you search content, browse by genre, and access your instant queue. You can watch instantly, read a description, or find similar titles listed as recommendations. It’s simple, and compelling. And another reason to stick to my Netflix subscription even with continued content challenges on the horizon.

Starz is pulling its content from Netflix in early 2012, and the ripples are being felt throughout the entire video distribution ecosystem. Can Netflix recover? How expensive will content licensing get? What does this mean for over-the-top video as a whole?

With potentially 300 million dollars on the table in a Netflix/Starz renewal deal, it is reasonable to assume that the decision from Starz to pull out of the relationship has to do with more than just direct revenue. I’ve heard from one source that Starz wants to go it alone and follow an HBO Go model. It’s already made its bed with the cable companies, and, like HBO, it sees that it can drive viewership and continuing revenue through that established model. It can’t, however, provide its content through a cheap Netflix subscription to consumers and continue to expect people to see more value in a cable package that costs a lot more. In other words, by licensing content to Netflix, Starz undermines its more lucrative partnership with the cable companies.

So the Netflix/Starz break-up is about more than just money. Or rather, it’s about more than just a one-time licensing deal. It’s about programmers deciding that the OTT free lunch program is over. You know all the concern and hype about cord cutting? I wouldn’t be so worried for the cable companies. The content folks know where their bread is buttered.

Redbox Coupon Codes

Dave Zatz —  August 18, 2011

redbox-game-discount

Given Redbox’s national expansion into gaming and the Netflix price hike, I’ve been paying more frequent visits to my local disc dispensing kiosk. And there’s really not much to say… Redbox kiosks are super efficient and disc rentals are extremely economical, even if the selection is sometimes limited. But, to avoid disappointment, one can browse their online catalog before hitting that supermarket, 7-Eleven, or Mickey D’s. Further, promotional coupon codes are frequently available online. I needed a Call of Duty fix a few weeks back and actually discovered codes designed to provide a free one night DVD rental will actually take $1 off a $2 Blu-ray or video game rental as well (but only the first night). Even better? Redbox provided us with some unique, one time codes to share.

Entering this giveaway is as easy as it gets, simply leave a comment if you’d like one of five Redbox DVD rental codes. We’ll choose the winners at random in a few days.

Bloomberg reported late last night that Netflix is in talks with DreamWorks Animation to get exclusive streaming rights to its content starting in 2013. This is a big deal, and it follows a strategy we’ve seen Netflix pursue for many months now. Rather than be a cable TV substitute, Netflix is looking to make select deals for premium content – first-run and original programming – while filling in its library with back-catalog selections. At the the $7.99 price point, that makes for a pretty compelling offering, and Netflix can hook different consumers with different bait. The potential DreamWorks deal, for example, could be catnip for parents of young children.

By being selective with its licensing decisions, Netflix can (hopefully) keep prices reasonable. And with more content in the works, maybe the company can even woo Dave back. ;)

roku-2-netflix

Along with the introduction of the new Roku 2 digital media streamers ($60 – $100) comes an updated Netflix app. While we knew 1080p video and subtitles (pics below) were onboard, I can now also confirm the presence of Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 pass-through audio. Of course, these richer AV capabilities are dependent on items within the Netflix catalog – and it’s safe to assume a good deal of content variability. However, the adaptive bitrate encoded feed that Roku has implemented will allow Netflix video to “adjust constantly to the speed of your Internet connection.” Meaning, no more stopping and restarting of movies or shows in hopes of landing a higher resolution feed when network congestion lets up.

Sadly, the enhanced Netflix app won’t be making its way to earlier Roku hardware. From Roku’s Director of Product Management:

Unfortunately, these new encodings will not be supported on previous generation Roku players. We try to ensure that new features in a channel are supported on all previous generations of players. However, this is not always possible.

Whether or not this is a technical limitation versus a business decision is anyone’s guess. Although the new Roku 2 hardware clearly seems more capable. Other than the small matter of that unresolved storage/memory shortcoming