Media Streaming

Feb 17 2012

News - People Watching More Videos, Longer on Tablets and Connected TVs

The explosion of mobile devices has dramatically changed the landscape for streaming video consumption over the last couple of years, so no one should be surprised to see a report, such as the one that Ooyala recently released, that shows mobile device viewership is on the rise for online video. Ooyala is a video service provider for companies such as the Hearst Corporation and ESPN. Every quarter Ooyala issues a report of online video viewership habits based on their analytics. The company's 2010 Q4 report goes beyond mobile devices though. The report also breaks down viewership statistics for tablets and connected TVs. For Ooyala's purposes, connected TVs include smart TVs and TVs connected to an OTT box such as a game console or Google TV.


It's in these statistics that Ooyala found some interesting trends that might reflect on the future of online video consumption. Tablets and connected TVs saw rapid growth in usage in Q4, with connected TV usage nearly doubling, and tablet and connected TV viewers are also more likely to watch a complete video and watch a long video versus a short video than viewers on desktops or mobile devices. It stands to reason that larger screens and more comfortable viewing conditions would result in more engaged viewers. As tablets and connected TVs become more prevalent and command a larger percentage of the time spent viewing online video, we will likely see greater demand for more medium and long format video content.

The iOS vs. Android comparison is also enlightening. Starting with the iPhone 4S launch, iOS usage rapidly outpaces Android usage, correlating with recent sales figures for the two platforms and underscoring analysts' suggestions that iPhone 4S sales benefited from pent-up demand for Apple's new phone. There are also encouraging statistics for Google TV, which saw more than a 90% increase in video plays. Admittedly, the slow start that Google TV has experienced means that just about any growth is going to look explosive in isolation, but it sure beats a downward trend.

As we learned in Q3, the rabid adoption of mobile devices has been leading to increased engagement with online video. Not only that, but connected TVs are really beginning to make waves, Google TV in particular. Ooyala’s report found that video plays on tablets, mobile devices, and connected TVs nearly doubled in the fourth quarter (from Q3).


Feb 17 2012

News - Hulu Plus App for Nintendo Wii Now Available

Hulu Plus subscribers can finally get their waggle on. The Nintendo Wii has added Hulu Plus to its list of downloadable apps in the Wii Shop Channel. There will also be a version of the Hulu Plus app for the Nintendo 3DS before the end of the year. Now, please note that I am quite aware that Nintendo does not consider the Wii a media consumption device, but it has been over a year since the Netflix app came to the Wii, and that's without adding in the six months of Netflix on the Wii via disc. Here's hoping that Nintendo has a better media streaming story to tell with the Wii U.

Hulu Plus on Wii

Bored with experiencing Hulu Plus through the same old ... interfaces? Get rid of that Hulu Plus ennui with Hulu Plus on Wii. Nintendo announced that the service is now available through the Wii in the US as of today.


Feb 16 2012

News - Aereo Looking to Bring Live TV into the Cloud


It would seem that everyone is looking for a way to bring live TV to the Internet. BitTorrent would like to subsume live TV into the Internet with its new P2P technology, while providers like Time Warner Cable are deploying live streams of their standard broadcasts to as many devices as possible as quickly as possible. Now media conglomerate IAC is helping to launch a start-up called Aereo. Aereo has a plan to turn live TV into a cloud app with its new service. Aereo's plan is to deploy refrigerator-sized units packed with hundreds of dime-sized antennas, one antenna per subscriber. The signal received by each antenna is streamed to its assigned subscriber for playback via an HTML5-based website, making the service compatible with just about any device or computer. The interface includes a program guide and the service not only streams live OTA broadcasts, but also serves as a dual tuner DVR with 40 hours of storage. At $12 a month it should be competitive with the bare-bones basic tier service offered by most cable companies, though obviously far more flexible. At the moment, most of the streaming apps that cable companies have deployed only work on a subscriber's home network, whereas the whole point of Aereo's service to remove such restrictions. It seems impossible for Aereo to avoid some sort of legal challenge from broadcasters and one has to wonder if there are enough people interested in a service that only provides access to OTA broadcasts to sustain a roll-out beyond the intial launch in New York City. That being said, IAC Chairman, Barry Diller, has put his full weight behind Aereos, and as the mastermind behind the Fox Broadcasting Company and USA Broadcasting, he does know a thing or two about disrupting the status quo of TV broadcasting.

Barry Diller always enjoys riling the media industry from which he sprang. A few minutes ago at a press conference at IAC headquarters in New York City, Diller introduced a new startup IAC is backing called Aereo that is building a DVR in the cloud that broadcasts live TV to your iPad, computer, or TV.  Diller has always believed that Internet TV would be a healthy counterweight to “media concentration” as media companies increasingly want “to protect that closed system.”


Jan 31 2012

News - SlingPlayer Comes to Kindle Fire

Amazon has been always been cagey about providing Kindle sales numbers, but with estimates floating around that Amazon may have sold upwards of 6 million Kindle Fires since the tablet's introduction late last year, you can bet that we will see more Android-friendly media apps and services working to bring their wares specifically to the Kindle Fire. How nice of Sling Media to provide an example to illustrate that point. Sling Media has been working to deploy their SlingPlayer Mobile app as widely as possible, including betting big on Honeycomb tablets. Starting January 31st, Sling Media will also be betting on the Kindle Fire with the release of SlingPlayer Mobile for the Kindle Fire through the Amazon App Store for $29.99. Sling Media has tried to take advantage of each platform that it has brought SlingPlayer Mobile to, and it looks like the Kindle Fire will be no exception. Despite being relatively low-powered as far as Android tablets go, the Kindle Fire seems to get on just fine with the SlingPlayer Mobile app in this hands-on. 

Sling Media Kindle Fire

Whether in high quality or low quality mode, however, SlingPlayer for the Kindle Fire performed as advertised. Operation using the on-screen controls was straight forward and commands were received by the Slingbox quickly. I did manage to trip up the connection once or twice by sending multiple commands too quickly, but seasoned SlingPlayer users know not to overload the controller and beyond that, performance was very impressive.

Boy Genius Report

Jan 26 2012

News - Netflix Now Available on over 800 devices, Users Shifting to Tablets and Smart TV's

Keeping with the trend of allowing users to consume Netflix on a variety of devices. Netflix has revealed that it is now compatible on more than 800 devices. This is more than double the amount of devices in which it was available on last year. Perhaps in response to the increased available of Netflix enabled devices Netflix also revealed user usage patterns which indicated a shift away from viewing Netflix through a console to direct viewing through enabled smart TV's and tablets.


"Together with our partners, we’ve shipped over 800 different models of Netflix-enabled devices and are planning to keep this momentum going both domestically and internationally,”

“We do see people enjoying a lot more of their viewing on tablets relative to the PC.”

Jan 23 2012

News - XBMC 11.0 Eden Beta 2 Now Available

The release of the first beta of XBMC 11.0 "Eden" turned out to be a great Christmas present. I've been using it regularly since its release, and other than some issues with building a library from a SMB share, the Eden beta has been quite stable. The interface is faster than ever and the new horizontal layout is a welcome change. The XBMC team has been hard at work polishing up that first beta release, and now the second beta for XBMC 11.0 is available. The new beta includes fixes for unencrypted Blu-ray playback, subtitle issues, and TMDB scraping, among other issues. There's still no Live CD release, but it has not been forgotten about. Unfortunately, this means that trying XBMC 11.0 will require an installation, so do keep in mind that this is a beta.

XBMC Beta Eden

It’s been a productive few weeks in the race to release Eden. Since Beta 1, unencrypted bluray, dvd player, startup problems in OSX, airplay, subtitle issues, unofficial addon repository installations, and the frustrating TMDB scraper problems that have made it difficult for everyone to scrape new movies have all seen fixes.


Jan 14 2012

News - Hulu Grows to 1.5M Paying Subscribers, Ready to Spend Big on Content

It would seem that Hulu is ready to celebrate the New Year by going shopping. In a recent blog post, Jason Kilar, Hulu's CEO, gave an update on the status of the company and how they performed over the last year. I personally have never seen the value proposition in paying for a media streaming service that includes commercials, but obviously some folks disagree given that Hulu has grown Hulu Plus to 1.5 million paid subscribers. That may not be the most impressive number with Netflix boasting 20 million subscribers, but it means that Hulu Plus wrapped up 2011 with about 5 times as many subscribers as the service had at the end of 2010.


The company credits the subscriber growth to their heavy investment in developing apps for mobile devices, consoles, and other devices. They also credit their heavy investment in content acquisition over the last year, the lion's share of which was dedicated to Hulu Plus. The end result of a growing subscriber base and better than expected ad revenue has been a 60% growth in revenue year over year to $420 million, which brings us back to the shopping. To ensure that Hulu and Hulu Plus continues to grow this year, Hulu will be devoting $500M to securing content over the next year. Any thoughts on what Hulu should try to add first?

 In 2011, we dramatically expanded the content available to Hulu and Hulu Plus customers. Hulu’s content offering grew approximately 40% vs 2010; Hulu Plus’ content offering grew more than 105%. Hulu Plus is the only online video subscription service that offers current season content from 5 of the 6 largest U.S. broadcast networks, with shows from The CW and Univision added this past quarter. In 2011, we added a long roster of great current series, including Grimm, Once Upon a Time, Misfits, Revenge, Terra Nova, Up All Night, New Girl, Una Familia Con Suerte, The Secret Circle, Hart of Dixie, Ringer, Community and many more.

Hulu Blog 

Jan 13 2012

News - Showtime Launches Showtime Anytime for iPad

And just like that Showtime is competing with HBO Go. Showtime has launched their Showtime Anytime app for the iPad to allow for mobile streaming of over 400 hours of Showtime's original content, along with some of Showtime's movies as well. So far only AT&T U-Verse and Verizon FiOS subscribers can access Showtime's streaming content through the app; Comcast subscribers are still stuck using Xfinity a little while longer. Evidently there are apps Android and iPhone on the horizon, but no word on apps for over-the-top devices like the Roku at this point. Given that it took HBO Go a while to move beyond mobile devices, we can probably expect the same to happen with Showtime Anytime.

Subscribers will also be able to access the network’s movies including The King’s Speech, Blue Valentine, The Hurt Locker, Inglorious Basterds, I Am Number Four, The Twilight Saga: New Moon andEclipse, among others. Also available through the app are comedy specials, documentaries and sports programming, including Showtime Championship Boxing, Inside NASCAR, ShoBox, The New Generation and Strikeforce mixed martial arts.


Jan 06 2012

News - LOVEFiLM Stikes Deals with BBC Worldwide and ITV

LOVEFiLMNetflix recently announced it had made a deal to offer BBC Worldwide's content when Netflix launches in the UK and Ireland. It was, however, a non-exclusive deal as LOVEFiLM has demonstrated by jumping in and cutting a deal of their own. Amazon announced today that their LOVEFiLM service has secured a deal similar to Netflix's for access to the BBC's television archives. 

The subscription video on-demand (SVOD) deal includes some of the greatest British programming of all time. TV titles will include the nation’s much loved Doctor Who, the critically acclaimed Life On Mars, spy drama Spooks, highly-acclaimed mini-series Whitechapel, as well as some of the public and critics’ favourite documentaries including the breath-taking Planet Earth.


Amazon and LOVEFiLM upped the ante by also announcing that they have extended their deal with ITV, the BBC's largest commercial competitor. There have been rumors that Netflix is negotiating with ITV and there is no indication that LOVEFiLM's content deal with ITV has been made exclusive, so don't be too surprised if Netflix ends up with a tit-for-tat response.

The subscription video on-demand (SVOD) agreement will give LOVEFiLM members access to ITV’s vast archive of shows, including a selection of recent popular content such as Marchlands and Above Suspicion, as well as classic crime series Prime Suspect and Inspector Morse and much loved British dramas such as Cold Feet and Secret Diary of a Call Girl.


Jan 06 2012

News - HBO Refusing to Provide Discs to Netflix

Netflix and HBO

I guess the executives at HBO decided the "Lilyhammer" trailer that Netflix released a couple of days ago looked pretty good. In just about a month Netflix will break into the world of original programming with a show that looks, at least vaguely, like the type of show that HBO has become famous for over the last 10-15 years. One has to assume that this is why HBO has decided that they are no longer going to provide discs to Netflix for their rental service. It won't actually have any impact on Netflix's ability to offer HBO discs, but it will require that Netflix buy the discs from a third party. Should HBO be nervous about Netflix's expansion into original programming, or is the timing of HBO's decision simply coincidence?

The move is said to be "largely symbolic," as Netflix still owns whichever discs it purchased previously and can still legally purchase future HBO discs from other parties and rent them to customers under the copyright doctrine of first sale. (Indeed, Netflix tell us it will continue to offer HBO DVDs and Blu-rays, although it's never had any HBO content on its streaming service.)

The Verge

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