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GigaOm has proclaimed that Netflix streaming and the cable industry are clearly in competition – vying for the same eyeballs and the same dollars. Yet, I’m not seeing it. Sure, there’s some overlap… of on-demand television content and back catalog films. But amongst the vast majority of my peers, and within my household, Netflix provides suplemental entertainment. And most of us choose to carry on with pay television services. We may bitch and moan about price hikes, billing problems, or customer service letdowns. But premium television remains quite compelling. Without live news, sports, or current, first run movies Netflix will remain largely a supplemental service. Netflix knows this. In fact, the GigaOm crew cites CEO Reed Hastings regarding the cord cutting mythos, “It’s not happening, it’s not anything we are causing, cable and Netflix are complementary.”

As evidence, GigaOm suggests that cable companies RCN and Suddenlink neutered their TiVo deployments by removing the Netflix app: “The logic? Netflix could get people to ditch their premium channels and ignore cable VOD.” However, RCN is very clearly on the record in its desire to offer Netflix streaming and Suddenlink is would “gladly” consider it. This is purely a licensing issue involving Netflix, TiVo, distributors, and studios. Rather than threatened MSOs blocking the (perceived) competition. Amazon Video on Demand, of course, is another story entirely.

As for me, I’m streaming very little Netflix these days. I’ve either already seen the content or just don’t find it compelling. In fact, between Amazon Prime, Hulu Plus, and HBOGo, I’m considering dropping Netflix altogether. Unless, I upgrade to more (Blu-ray) discs per month – reverting back to physical media to catch newer releases at bargain prices.

As digital licensing negotiations heat up, it’s heartening to see Netflix pull another big win from a new deal with Miramax. Netflix announced the multi-year agreement today, which includes instant streaming of a number of movies in the Miramax library, from Academy Award winners like “Shakespeare in Love,” and “The English Patient,” to cult favorites like “Chasing Amy” and “Pulp Fiction.”

The win for Netflix is important for a number of reasons. First, as Will Richmond points out, it shows how big a role movies still play in the Netflix model, even though TV series have gotten more attention of late. Second, the VOD company noted that the deal with Miramax marks the first time Miramax titles have been made available through a digital subscription service, showing that Netflix carries significant clout as a distribution partner. And third, although terms were not disclosed, the agreement shows Netflix can and is willing to compete financially even now that content owners understand that digital delivery doesn’t mean giving away licensing rights for pennies on the dollar. [UPDATE: paidContent is putting the financial terms at likely more than $100 million.]

Miramax films will be available on Netflix starting in June, with titles added on a rotating basis. Streaming access will be available across TVs (presumably through Rokus, game consoles, and more), tablets, computers, and smartphones.

Netflix has just released their Android instant streaming app. And that’s the good news. The bad news is that only a subset of handsets are supported. Unfortunately, it’s not really much of a surprise give the wide variation of deployed hardware and multiple versions of Android. As Netflix blogs:

In the absence of standardization, we have to test each individual handset and launch only on those that can support playback.

Of course, Android isn’t the only platform to experience so called fragmentation. In fact, beyond Apple’s tight control of its iPhone ecosystem, all mobile platforms share this trait. But know that if you don’t posses one of the first five supported Android devices, Netflix intends to keep plugging away:

We are aggressively qualifying phones and look forward to expanding the list of phones on which the Netflix app will be supported.

(via Engadget)


Tech of the Hub got their hands on a trio of 2011 Blu-ray players and set about determining what model provides the best Netflix experience. Which works out well, as I’m in the market for a new, connected Blu-ray player. On the Netflix front, the 802.11n-capable Panasonic DMP-BDT210, LG BD670, and Samsung BD-D5700 seem to provide similar levels of performance. Although, the LG is notable for launching Netflix the quickest while the Panasonic provides Dolby Digital Surround.

Of course, like most of you, I’m interested in more than just Netflix streaming. So I checked in to learn more regarding device boot time, disc loading and connected services UI. First, all these mid-range players boot in under 30 seconds – which is more than sufficient and generally shows improvement over prior generation models featuring sluggish startup. In terms of online content, both the UI and selection vary pretty widely — there’s no clear standout and I haven’t yet thought about which services I’d prioritize. Having said that, CNET prefers the Panasonic – anointing it with an Editors’ Choice award.

Any other experiences or suggestions?

Netflix (NFLX) released its quarterly earnings earlier this week and, while the market was somewhat underwhelmed, subscriber numbers are impressive. In fact, GigaOm declares, “Netflix Now Officially Has More Subscribers Than Comcast.”

Indeed, at first blush, Netflix’s 23.6 million subscribers does exceed Comcast’s 22.8 million. But what exactly does that suggest and is it a reasonable comparison?

From a financial stand point, the proclamation doesn’t hold water as Comcast’s revenue is orders of magnitudes larger than Netflix’s. And it’s not like these two are necessarily direct competitors. Sure, there’s a cord cutting contingent that relies on Netflix to augment their “television” viewing. But many subscribe to both pay television services and Netflix, as I do. Additionally, Netflix is available nationwide whereas Comcast only operates in select regions. So, perhaps a comparison to HBO’s 28+ million subscribers is more appropriate. But, again, these movie services are not mutually exclusive.

At the end of the day, Netflix’s success and service is admirable (although its streaming content catalog is still lacking), and illustrates folks are seeking out alternate distribution methods. Yet, at the end of the day, its rise seems inversely proportional to the demise of Blockbuster’s retail video rental business, rather than a large scale assault on the established premium TV providers.

This post was originally published on the Dice Blog Network.


DirecTV (DTV) hit up some of their customers today with a web survey. A very interesting web survey. As it’s nearly all about Netflix (NFLX) – usage patterns, both physical discs and online streaming. Most intriguing is revelation of a DirecTV “concept” that would provide a “Netflix-like service” to existing satellite television subscribers:

In this next section, we would like you to evaluate a new service that DIRECTV is thinking about offering to their customers. DIRECTV plans to offer a streaming-only Netflix-like service for a flat fee per month, which would appear as a line item on your monthly bill.

  • The service would allow you to stream thousands of movies and television shows over a broadband internet connection to your television, computer or tablet.
  • The content available would likely be past season of current shows as well as older TV series and older movie released (released more than 5 years ago).
  • You could watch as many programs as you want for one flat monthly efe, similar to what Netflix streaming offers.

Continue Reading…

PSN Down For The Count

Dave Zatz —  April 26, 2011

As we creep closer to a week of PlayStation Network downtime, gamers are increasingly frustrated… and concerned. When will PSN be back online and is our credit card info safe? (Yes, I too have a PSN Wallet.) Unfortunately, Sony isn’t saying much of anything at all. From their latest blog post:

I don’t have an update or timeframe to share at this point in time. As we previously noted, this is a time intensive process and we’re working to get them back online quickly. We’ll keep you updated with information as it becomes available.

On a number of occasions, Sony reps have stated they’ll keep us updated. Yet, other than indicating a security breach of some sort, they haven’t really shared all that much. And, on Day 6, the word “quickly” should be excised from the conversation. So, yeah, still no PS3 Call of Duty, Black Ops multiplayer and Netflix access remains hit or miss.

On the rumor and speculation front, unconfirmed reports over the weekend seemed to suggest that service would be restored today (Tuesday). We shall see… Additionally, some suspect there may have been PSN data loss or corruption – which is contributing to the extended network outage. But, until Sony fesses up, we just don’t know.

Of course, Sony isn’t the only provider to go dark for a time. Amazon recently experienced a rough week and here’s a list of some historic Internet meltdowns. This too shall pass.

As the story goes, Sony voluntarily brought down the PlayStation Network last Wednesday in reaction to a security breach:

An external intrusion on our system has affected our PlayStation Network and Qriocity services. In order to conduct a thorough investigation and to verify the smooth and secure operation of our network services going forward, we turned off PlayStation Network & Qriocity services.

Unfortunately, no one knows when the PSN will be up once again and Sony’s not saying. In fact, their most recent blog update doesn’t provide much hope of a timely resolution:

We are working around the clock to bring [the PSN] back online. Our efforts to resolve this matter involve re-building our system to further strengthen our network infrastructure.

Wow, rebuilding the network on the fly? I wouldn’t be surprised if PSN is down a few more days… Continue Reading…