Media Streaming

Jan 04 2012

News - Plex for Google TV Updated, Enhanced HTTP Live Streaming Coming Soon

Plex LogoPlex for Google TV has received an update to improve stability and provide more information for content that might not work in Plex due to Google TV's limited support for HTTP Live Streaming (HLS). The issue that Plex for Google TV users have faced is that Google TV only supports HLS for formats that Google TV supports natively. Of course, the big advantage of Plex is its ability to transcode content. For now, the folks at Plex have updated their app to more clearly mark which content channels will not work on Google TV, but at the same time they have let slip that Google is in the process of adding enhanced HLS support to Google TV so that it will support transcoded streams. The announcement that Plex for Google TV will remain at its introductory $0.99 price for the foreseeable future is just icing on the cake.

YES – Google IS working on enhanced HLS in a future update for Google TV. We’ve done early tests with the enhanced HLS for the patch and are happy to report that indeed it works great with Plex! Now – we’re not allowed to say when this will hit the streets – but it is coming!

Plex Android Blog

Dec 28 2011

News - New York Times Pegs Netflix CEO as One of the 5 Worst CEOs of 2011

Reed Hastings, Netflix CEOSydney Finkelstein, a professor of strategy and leadership at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, has helped the New York Times put together a list of the worst CEOs of 2011. Included on that list is none other than Netflix CEO, Reed Hastings. Coming on the heels of a ForeSee report about Netflix's customer satisfaction ranking taking a tumble, this might seem like a bit of piling on, but then I suspect most folks would agree that Netflix's missteps this year have to be laid at Hasting's feet. Make no mistake, this is not to suggest that Hastings has not done some incredible things as co-founder and CEO of Netflix, or that he can't turn things around in 2012 and help Netflix shine once more, but 2011 will almost certainly go down as a year that Hastings wishes he get a do-over on. Plus, no CEO ever wants to find themselves lumped in with the co-CEOs of RIM. Do you think Reed Hastings can turn things around and make the 5 best CEOs list next year?

As for the embattled CEO of Netflix, Finkelstein writes that "if ever a chief executive found himself in the midst of what the economist Joseph Schumpeter called creative destruction, it is Mr. Hastings." 

PCMag

Dec 28 2011

News - Netflix Takes Serious Hit in Consumer Satisfaction Rankings

Customer satisfaction tracking company, ForeSee, has issued its semiannual report on the top 40 Internet companies. The company with the highest customer satisfaction was Amazon. The company that usually competes with Amazon for that top spot is Netflix, which has slipped down to the middle of the pack after a rocky year of price hikes, abortive attempts to split the company in two, and some unusually poor communication. There have been all sorts of warning signs along the way, and there is certainly no reason to believe that Netflix can't make things right, but it will cost the company. Netflix has traditionally been able to rely on high consumer satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth to maintain a low churn rate and make acquiring new subscribers relatively inexpensive. With Hollywood applying the screws and the company's share price in a tailspin, this kind of news only serves to provide  confirmation that Netflix is going to have spend more money to make more money.

Of course, it didn’t take a crystal ball to see this was coming: Netflix lost 800,000 subscribers in the third quarter, and domestic growth in the fourth quarter — which is usually pretty robust due to holiday gifts that come with Netflix embedded — is expected to be flat or down. Meanwhile, confidence in the company’s stock has collapsed, sending its share price from above $300 down to about $70.

GigaOm

Dec 26 2011

News - Boxee Updated to Version 1.5, Final Version for Desktops

Boxee 1.5

Team Boxee has announced that version 1.5 of Boxee is now available for PC/MAC/Ubuntu and is being tested by Early Access users on the Boxee Box. Unfortunately, Team Boxee is also announcing that Boxee 1.5 for Desktops will be last version released for computers. Going forward, all of Team Boxee's attention will be devoted to the Boxee Box. As if to emphasize the point, the blog post in which the news was delivered indicates that Boxee 1.5 for Desktops will only be available on the Boxee site through the end of January. Hopefully there are plans to let other sites host the download in the future.

Boxee 1.5 for Desktops will include all the interface polishing that the Boxee Box version will receive and reportedly brings the PC client up to about 85% of the functionality of the Boxee Box, but will not support any apps that require DRM or certification such as Netflix or Pandora, and also will not support Boxee Live TV.

This 1.5 release will be the last version of Boxee for PC/Mac/Ubuntu. It will be available on Boxee.tv through the end of January.

We believe the future of TV will be driven by devices such as the Boxee Box, Connected TVs / Blu-Rays and 2nd screen devices such as tablets and phones. While there are still many users who have computers connected to their TVs, we believe this use case is likely to decline as users find better alternatives.

Boxee Blog

While Boxee for Desktops users will be happy to finally receive an update, this is still disheartening news, particularly given that Avner Ronen's June post about the fall update coming to PCs seemed to suggest that the plan was to not only continue PC support, but keep it more in line with Boxee Box releases. Is Team Boxee right that there is not a place for software like Boxee on PCs in the future?

 

--Release Notes after the break--

Dec 25 2011

News - Plex App Coming for Nook Tablets

The folks at Plex have been working hard to get their client on as many platforms as possible, including mobile platforms such as iOS and Android. In the run up to the holiday shopping season, the two biggest Android tablet releases were the Kindle Fire and Nook Tablet, and Plex was quick to show up in the Amazon Android Marketplace for the Kindle Fire. It took a bit longer, but it would appear that Plex will soon be making its way over to the Nook Color and Nook Tablet as well. Barnes & Noble does have more extensive approval process, and this will be welcome news for Nook-loving Plex users, even if that might be a small audience. It should look and work largely identical to the standard Android Plex app, and given that the Nook Color and Kindle Fire have comparable hardware specs, performance should not be an issue either.

Plex on Nook

Plex arriving in the Nook Store is actually a big boon for Barnes & Noble and its users, since it helps leverage users’ own existing media libraries, providing access to more video and music content, an area where the Nook lags behind Amazon’s Kindle Fire(s amzn). 

GigaOm

Dec 25 2011

News - XBMC 11.0 Eden Beta Now Available

XBMC Eden

I've been awfully excited about XBMC 11.0 Eden since the XBMC team first announced it was starting to come together, and now the team has announced that the beta version of Eden is available for download. They have made some major changes to the orientation of the default skin, Confluence, and have generally been working on making everything faster, smoother, and better. I'm personally excited to try out the Airplay support and think the improved input handling should make setting up remote control functionality a lot easier. Apple TV users will also be happy to hear that Eden marks the first time that iOS releases are in-sync with the main trunk, so they too can get in on the beta love. The only bad news is that there is not an XBMC Live version of the Eden beta. The XBMC team is in the process of making some massive changes to the underpinnings of the Live version that they are not ready for people to put to use, so testing Eden will require an actual installation.

As always, do keep in mind that this is beta software. Follow the XBMC team's tips for backing up your computer or device, expect to crash and burn from time to time, and have fun! If you decide to take the beta for a spin, be sure to share your thoughts with us.

Milestones include Addon Rollbacks, vast improvements in Confluence (the default skin), massive speed increases via features like Dirty-region rendering and the new JPEG decoder, a simpler, better library, additional protocol handling, better networking support, better handling of unencrypted BluRay content and structures, adjustable display refresh rate in OSX (to match the already available feature in Windows and Linux), AirPlay support, an upgraded weather service, and much more. 

XBMC Blog

Dec 25 2011

News - Verizon Planning Media Servers for FiOS

FiOS Media Server

Verizon FiOS appears set to get out of the set top box business, and into the media server business. Verizon has released a video detailing how they plan on eliminating traditional set top boxes to improve energy efficiency and offer better service by moving to a whole-house DVR/media server conjoined to small extender devices or devices that the consumer already owns such as the Xbox 360. Even with a projected launch of late 2012, this is an ambitious plan that seems to be more progressive than we are used to seeing from service providers. The video is a bit light on technical details and specifications, but I am sure we will learn more as Verizon solidifies their plans. For instance, perhaps we will learn more about how the PS3 and TVs mentioned in the video will be able to connect to the Verizon FiOS media server.

Yet, I’d expect at least three tuners and 1TB of storage (compared to the DirecTV HR34‘s 5 tuners, 1TB or the TiVo Elite’s 4 tuners, 2TB). Of course, along with such a beefy centralized unit Verizon will introduce small form factor extenders to sprinkle throughout one’s home. 

Zatz not Funny

Dec 22 2011

News - Roundup: Best Streaming Boxes of 2011

Out friends at Zatz not Funny have put together their list of the best media streaming related boxes of the year. When most of us think of media streamers, we tend to focus on video or general purpose streamers such as the WD TV Live or the Boxee Box, but this roundup applies a more nuanced definition and breaks out recommendations for some categories that often get short shrift. I have to admit that I don't necessarily agree with every choice on the list, but Dave Zatz does have a strong argument to back up every choice. What's your pick for the best media streamer of 2011?

It’s that time of the year again where we run down our selection of best digital media boxes. And, surprisingly, the top 2012 recommendations aren’t dramatically different from our 2011 picks.

Zatz not Funny

Dec 22 2011

News - LOVEFiLM Signs Sony to Exclusive Content Agreement

Do you remember that scene in Matrix Revolutions where Neo and Agent Smith have their final showdown in the rain and they end up flying at each other, colliding with such force that it generates a shockwave that displaces the rain for miles around? This is the image that has begun to come to mind every time I think about Netflix and LOVEFiLM facing off in the UK.

Both companies have been signing companies to content deals in the run-up to Netflix's UK launch, but Netflix in particular has been working on signing movie studios to exclusive licensing deals. Now, Amazon and LOVEFiLM are striking back by signing Sony to a similar exclusive licensing deal. The deal gives LOVEFiLM exclusive streaming access to both new and catalog movie titles, as well Sony television series.

 LOVEFiLM, an Amazon company, and Sony Pictures Television have signed a major multi-year content deal giving LOVEFiLM members exclusive streaming access to new and forthcoming Sony Pictures titles during the second subscription pay TV window, as well as catalog titles and TV series, from June 2012.

Amazon Blog

Dec 21 2011

News - Xbox Live TV Round Three: UFC, VUDU, DailyMotion and More

In what is beginning to feel like a weekly ritual, Microsoft has released another round of video apps in support of their new Xbox Live TV initiative. The UFC app is the heavyweight in this group, especially with the attention surrounding the big fight coming up New Year's Eve, but VUDU might be a popular addition for movie fans. DailyMotion fills the wide release category that YouTube filled in last week's video app collection with availability in more than 25 countries. There are also a couple of new channels specific to the UK, Australia, and France.

Ballmer on Xbox

We are now a goodly part of the way through the list of content partners that Microsoft initially announced. On their current weekly release schedule, they should be just right to finish up the list during CES, which begs the question, then what? Might Microsoft be timing the releases so that the first wave of apps ends just in time for the announcement of another list of content partners at CES, or can we look forward to a big chunk of Ballmer's press conference being given over to a recap of what they have already released?

Xbox 360 is building on its expansive catalog of movies, sports, television and music and we’re happy to offer* the following new entertainment experiences starting today in various regions on Xbox LIVE:

· 4 on Demand (C4). United Kingdom 
· ABC iView (Australian Broadcasting Corp.). Australia 
· Dailymotion. Available in 34 countries globally** 
· Demand 5 (Five). United Kingdom 
· M6. France 
· MSN Video. France 
· UFC on Xbox LIVE (UFC). Canada, United States 
· VUDU (Wal-Mart). United States

Major Nelson

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