Archives For Movies

Turkey Weekend TV Online

Mari Silbey —  November 27, 2009

Hulu for the Holidays

Thanksgiving weekend is a time for turkey, travel, and television. Beyond the requisite football, we get the start of TV holiday specials – a mix of sentimental schlock and comedy classics. If you’re watching online, the options are wide-ranging. Here are a few to get you started.


Hulu for the Holidays is underway, with new content showing up every day from now through December 25th. The selections aren’t necessarily holiday-related (21 Jumpstreet?), but consider the newly available shows and movies to be Hulu’s gift to you. If you really want a T’giving connection, the site also has a collection of Thanksgiving Moments; everything from SNL, to Friends, to Jerry Springer. After all, nothing says let’s be thankful like watching family brawls that don’t involve your own kin. One note, however, beware the company’s new protectionist policy if you plan on embedding whole libraries of holiday moments from Hulu. NewTeeVee tells us several start-ups have gotten letters of complaint for embedding large amounts of Hulu content. Now where’s that TV Everywhere spirit?


YouTube is obviously the place to go for amateur holiday videos, but beyond the how-to clips and family antics, there are some gems mixing “old” TV and new. For example, check out last year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade RickRoll. It’ll make you laugh and hold you over until next year’s march through Midtown.

Amazon VOD

The selection in Amazon’s Video on Demand department is a bit patchy, but if you’re looking for holiday specials, there are some decent choices thrown into the mix. Rentals for $2.99 are a good bet for entertainment lasting just about as long as the holiday weekend. You can purchase videos too, but they average around $9.99, and for the most part, the movies available don’t seem to warrant the cost.

Netflix Watch Instantly

Netflix has added some nice flicks to its Watch Instantly category recently. Specifically, if you want to entertain the kids this weekend, relative new releases like Bolt, Wall-E, and Bedtime Stories are all available. Best of all, you can monopolize the big screen with your own stuff and plop the little ones down in front of the laptop. Now that’s something to be thankful for. ;)

Will Netflix Jump The Shark?

Dave Zatz —  November 13, 2009


Netflix has enjoyed a long run as both a consumer and investor darling. And those investors may very well cheer Netflix’s exploration of delaying new release movie rentals to cut costs. I understand their desire to maintain good relations with the studios and to avoid costly, time consuming litigation. But us consumers aren’t feeling the love.

While guesting on PCMag Radio earlier this week (pic), my co-hosts suggested that holding back DVD rentals 30 days after DVD sales commence would lead to an increase in content piracy. While not inaccurate, I doubt the number would significantly move the needle. There are those who swipe content, and there are those who don’t. So, ignoring BitTorrent for the moment, how would the rest of us handle a Netflix Hollywood sellout?

Of course, Netflix has been a pioneer in the digital space. But their current streaming catalog is largely the same sort of long-tail, back catalog content not impacted by this 30 day release window. If I can’t get new release movies from Netflix in a timely fashion, I will get them elsewhere… and adjust or cancel my Netflix subscription accordingly. As I rarely to never purchase media these days, I’d go the digital video-on-demand route. And currently Amazon VOD is my provider of choice on the Roko and TiVo platforms. Should Netflix persue this course of action, I also expect those less willing to cave to Hollywood’s demands or cash (like Redbox) would see a surge in business.

It’s not too late to do the right thing, Netflix. Bump my sub a buck or three, if you must, and leave well enough alone.

best_buy tag logoRyan Lawler over at Contentinople has put two and two together and come to the conclusion that Best Buy is taking aim at the digital media space. The clue trail actually started last fall with Best Buy’s acquisition of Napster for music, but then last week Lawler noted that Best Buy’s partnership with TiVo and Sonic makes it possible for the retailer to sell video titles from CinemaNow directly to consumers on their HDTV screens. And here’s the kicker. Today Lawler reports that both LG and Samsung will be launching HD sets “and other devices” with an embedded Best Buy digital storefront by year’s end. (Note: Samsung also has a deal in place to embed Blockbuster OnDemand)

It’s interesting to watch a retailer trying to expand its business model in the digital world. Beyond that, however, it’s fascinating to see how the digital living room is evolving. Lots of companies are gunning for consumer attention on their TVs. Best Buy is throwing itself into the ring with the likes of Blockbuster, Amazon, and Netflix, but also with cable, telco, and satellite operators. On the side of independent providers, like Best Buy, is the ability (potentially) to bring an innovative and intuitive interface to consumers, and the ability (again, potentially) to negotiate for a broad selection of video titles.  On the side of the operators, however, is the ability to weave premium content in with the rest of the TV experience, and eventually take their offerings across multiple platforms they already own – broadband, TV, and wireless. Both sides have a serious shot at being successful, but of course, it’s all in the execution. If wishes were ponies…

Digital Media Bytes

Dave Zatz —  February 18, 2009

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

LTE on the Streets of Barcelona
Parts of of Barcelona that are decked out in an LTE network which Motorola deployed the network over the last two weeks specifically for mobile broadband demonstrations throughout the Mobile World Conference.

Hauppauge & MSFT Bringing Windows 7 HD-PVR Support
I’ve received confirmation from a reliable source that Hauppauge is working directly with Microsoft to ensure the Hauppauge HD-PVR will work with Windows 7 Media Center.

Pirate Bay: Probably Not the Trial of the Century
The Swedish government, on behalf of Hollywood et al., is trying to eliminate a pesky business model upsetting technology. I predict two things to come from this trial.

Motorola Signs IPTV Deal in the Caribbean
Motorola announced a deal with CODETEL in the Caribbean to provide its CCE platform for managing IPTV content and services.

Dale’s 2009 Oscar Roundup
Thoughts and picks for the major categories of the 81st annual Annual Academy Awards show- to be held on February 22, 2009.

Keeping WiMAX Devices Secure
The WiMAX Forum has selected Motorola’s public key infrastructure (PKI) Center of Excellence for certification of WiMAX devices.

AMC’s Best Picture Showcase

Dave Zatz —  February 16, 2009


2008 was the rare year in which I missed every Oscar Best Picture nominee. Pretty depressing for a (former?) film buff. Fortunately, AMC’s hooked me up with a ticket to their all-day Best Picture Showcase being held Saturday (2/21). I may have neglected to mention to their rep that I’d planned to attend anyhow – $30 for five quality flicks (and unlimited popcorn) seems like a nice deal to me. The AMC event is being held at nearly 100 theaters around the country, and I’ll be at Tysons Corner 16 (with stadium seating) if you’d like to join me for the movie marathon:

  • Milk 10:30AM
  • The Reader 1:05PM
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button 3:45PM
  • Slumdog Millionaire 7:15PM
  • Frost/Nixon 9:45PM

Although I’ve been negligent, Dale’s cranking out reviews of many Oscar nominated films and talent that may be of interest before heading to the theatre or filling your Netflix queue.

Every year Andy Baio does a very cool thing, he tracks how quickly Oscar-nominated films are leaked online to P2P networks. It’s interesting for a number of reasons, but primarily for demonstrating how unreliable the actual Academy members themselves are in keeping Hollywood’s goods off the Internet. The annual results are relatively similar: usually within a week, or sometimes a bit longer, after an Academy screener is released a version of the movie is available for download via BitTorrent (to say nothing of Usenet, Rapidshare, etc.). What would be interesting to see, however, is if the illegal downloading activity spiked after the nominations came out – is the file-sharing community as affected by the hype surround Oscar nominations as the box office often is. Alas, that would be very difficult to study with any great confidence since the data is not really available. In general, though, the most reliable and accessible analysis of Bittorrent behavior is provided by TorrentFreak in their weekly top 10 lists, which generally show a strong correlation between mainstream audience taste and downloaders’ preferences, with some notable exceptions, that is, pretty much anything Science Fiction.

A couple of categories get overlooked by Andy, however, including the documentary and foreign nominees, and also whether any of the nominated films are available in HD resolutions. The documentary and foreign films are easy to skip since they barely appear on the radar of most film-goers to begin with, and HD is not something that is too relevant to Andy’s study as all of the official screeners are standard definition DVD’s. As someone very interested in foreign and documentary films, however, I wanted to see what I could find out about their availability for download.  Read the rest of this entry »

For those of you still not satisfied with the current crop of movie recommendation services, you’ll soon have another option available to you. Jinni’s new interactive movie rating website is trying to do for movies, what Pandora has done for music. Although the site doesn’t stream any of the films that they recommend, but provides convenient links to places where you can find the films online (Netflix, Blockbuster, Hulu, etc.) Apparently, the company has been live for a few months now, but I just discovered them after catching a review of the service on Read Write Web. Last week, I signed up for the private Jinni beta and have been pretty impressed so far.

Jinni includes reviews, photos and even trailers for each film in their database, but their movie filtering software is the real bread and butter. Most of the content you’ll find on their movie description pages is pretty much available on any of the other movie sites, but their “movie genome” information is exclusive. Through a process of human and computer intervention, they’ve categorized every film in their library using information from the movie’s plot, mood, genre, time period, critic reviews, story type, and attitudes. Viewers are then able to filter their search results by using these definitions. Continue Reading…