Archives For Netflix

Rumor has it the TiVo sales call center is going 24/7, so I did a little poking around the TiVo store last night and uncovered a new partnership with Blockbuster. Netflix has stated there “is no work going on” in relation to TiVo, so why not play the field? For about $10 – $15 more than TiVo’s current 1 year hardware/service bundle, you can include a Blockbuster Online subscription (1, 2, 3). Why anyone would want to lock themselves into a contract for Blockbuster’s inferior Netflix service is beyond me… unless you can browse and reserve movies directly through the TiVo. I’m not sure what, if any, relation this development has to TiVo’s VOD aspirations, but I’ll be updating the post once TiVo removes the store links OR issues a press release with more details.

UPDATE: TiVo has removed the links. Hope you got your orders in and screenshots out! ;)

HD-DVD Launch Whimper

Dave Zatz —  March 15, 2006

Looks like the next generation of DVDs will be getting off to a slow start. Netflix may have added a HD rental page, but they won’t have any discs to rent to the few consumers who manage to get their hands on a player.

Generally speaking, I’m an early adopter of new technology. I was definitely first on my block with a DVD player (and finding discs was a chore), but I have little desire to upgrade to either of the new formats. Why? Current 480p movies with 5.1 digital surround is quite nice… and spending $500-$800 on a bulky player with limited titles for marginally improved video and sound quality doesn’t compute. Additionally, copy restrictions will prevent ripping (not that computer drives even exist yet) and may limit output to HDMI. If I’m not jumping on board now, I can’t imagine many people who will.

Hollywood Reporter says: Moreover, sources report that only 10,000 Toshiba players are being shipped to retailers initially, a number that indicates low sales expectations. On the software front, it is unlikely that even a single HD-DVD title will be available for sale this month at any of the consumer electronics chains and discount retailers that are bringing in the players.

(via Thomas Hawk)

Netflix Causes Family Strife

Dave Zatz —  February 28, 2006

I’ve had The 40-Year-Old Virgin at the top of my queue for over two months, during which time Netflix has failed to deliver. I’ve even resorted to cheap tricks in hopes of improving my situation. Either Netflix is throttling the movies I get or they just don’t have enough inventory. I’m not sure which is worse… penalizing an active customer or poor planning. And if it is poor planning, how come they haven’t seen the error of their ways and purchased more stock?

My fiancé thinks I’m throttling her movie selections in favor of mine. She wonders how it’s possible Battlestar Galactica DVDs continually arrive but her DVD selection never does. Seems a little suspicious, don’t you think? So I begged Netflix to restore harmony to my home and this was their response:
Continue Reading…

MovieKlub Mail Order DVD Service

Dave Zatz —  February 24, 2006

Here we have yet another video distribution system that will fail (see MovieBeam ). MovieKlub will send you up to two DVDs a week for $24.99/month. So what’s the big deal? These movies can only be played 3 times… then you toss them out or return them for recycling. We’ve seen similar schemes in the past which expire discs by calling in or through degradation via exposure to air or laser… none have succeeded as business models. MovieKlub is scheduled to begin operations this summer.

No thank you — Netflix has got me covered until a better VOD/PPV experience arrives.

MovieKlub says: The Limited Play DVD disc has a coating composed of a dye capable of being irreversibly bleached by light absorption. In this DVD, the information encoding features are machine-readable prior to bleaching of the dye, which is activated by absorption of the laser light in the DVD player. The dye, once bleached, inhibits further reading of the information encoding features. Based on the application of the dye, the number of read/plays of the disc can be controlled and pre-determined. With the Limited Play DVD disc, however, upon sufficient exposure to the reading laser beam, the dye in the disc coating undergoes a change in the index of refraction, resulting in unrecoverable data.

(via Hacking Netflix)

Disney’s MovieBeam Goes HD

Dave Zatz —  February 14, 2006

MovieBeam, who just received a large cash infusion, is relaunching in 29 markets this year. In fact, my neighborhood already appears to be online. Basically you buy the Linksys MovieBeam set-top box, every week a few movies are downloaded via a digital over-the-air (OTA) signal, and then you choose which you want to rent. The movie rental includes a 24 hour viewing period and typical DVR controls. Initially, only Disney and Warner Brothers content will be offered.

If they weren’t upgrading the service to include HD movies, I’d say they’re doomed to fail with this pricing model. By offering HD, they may have a chance… though I wouldn’t bet on it. I believe most people will still prefer Netflix’s understandable low-tech methods and reasonable rates. Not to mention, anyone with a cable or satellite box has access to some sort of PPV or VOD without MovieBeam’s upfront hardware fee. Things could get interesting since Disney, the originator and a major investor, is leveraging their movie library by making flicks available to MovieBeam 30 days prior to when cable providers can offer them via VOD.

LA Times says: The service allows customers to rent movies from a library of 100 titles stored in a set-top box. As many as 10 new films, including some in high definition, are automatically delivered to the device each week via television airwaves. The MovieBeam box costs $199.99 after a $50 rebate and requires a one-time service activation fee of $30. Movie rental fees are $3.99 for new releases — $4.99 for films in high definition — and $1.99 for older titles.

Netflix Queue Hack Debunked

Dave Zatz —  February 8, 2006

Several weeks ago Thomas Hawk reported on a method to improve your odds when dealing with backordered Netflix movies. It goes like this… you only fill your queue with out-of-stock DVDs and presumably Netflix has no choice but to fulfill your request. Nice theory… but in reality we haven’t gotten a new movie in several days.

Like others, I’ve noticed a excessive amount of unavailable titles lately including March of the Penguins and Wallace & Grommit’s most recent exploits. I’ve been a customer since the late 90’s and can’t recall such a stock shortage. I would think with Netflix’s additional advertising revenue they’d have more inventory, not less. Then again, they could’ve picked up a ton of new subscribers with their recent commercials.

As with the original hack, The 40 Year Old Virgin was my test flick. It’s been in our queue nearly two months and was recently “upgraded” from Very Long Wait to Long Wait. So I began with an empty queue and added just that one movie. During that last several days we’ve received no email shipping alerts and no movies from Netflix — the order has remained unfilled.

This isn’t to say the original story is false… but you might consider this a warning that your mileage may vary. We’re ready to start receiving flicks again, so I’ve reconstituted our queue. I hope you appreciate the lengths I’ll go in the name of science.

If you recall, MovieBeam was a Disney service similar to Akimbo offering pay-per-view rentals of downloaded movies via leased set-top boxes. After testing the service in a few markets, Disney shut it down and later spun off the company. Most, including myself, figured it was gone for good despite comments that service would be relaunched at a later date. Now it appears there may still be some life in this company as they’ve received a major investment from Cisco.

Wouldn’t it be cool if the rumored Netflix VOD box and MovieBeam relaunch were one and the same… ah, to dream.

eWeek says: Cisco Systems Inc. said on Monday it has made an investment in MovieBeam Inc., the on-demand movie service that Walt Disney Co. spun off in January. Cisco, Disney and several venture capital firms including Intel Corp.’s Intel Capital, Mayfield Fund, Norwest Venture Partners and Vantage Point Venture Partners invested $48.5 million in MovieBeam, according to MovieBeam spokeswoman Michelle Cox.