Media Streaming

Dec 21 2011

News - Netflix Signs BBC for UK and Ireland Launch

Netflix in the UK

It has been a while since Netflix announced that they were going to be launching in the UK and Ireland in early 2012, an announcement that Netflix followed up with a spate of exclusive deals with a variety of studios in hopes of getting a leg up against the entrenched LOVEFiLM service. Today, Netflix announced that they have made a deal with the BBC as well, though this will not be an exclusive deal. The deal will give Netflix access to a treasure trove of classic BBC series including Doctor Who, Fawlty Towers, and Top Gear. I do have to wonder if it rubs some salt in the wound that US-based Netflix can swoop in and offer up the BBC's back catalog, but the BBC's own iPlayer cannot.

Classic episodes of "Fawlty Towers" and "Miss Marple" are just a few of the titles that will be available to Netflix customers in the United Kingdom andIrelandthanks to a new licensing pact with BBC Worldwide.


Dec 21 2011

News - NPD In-Stat Reporting that North American Cable Box Demand Slipping

Cable BoxNPD In-Stat has issued a report that indicates that cable TV box demand in North America is on the decline. I wish I could credit increased interest in Cable Card for the shift in demand, but the report lays much of the blame on declining cable TV subscriber numbers. The declining demand for cable boxes seems to be primarily isolated to North America. Indeed, other regions are showing positive demand, so the cable box manufacturers are not in any trouble. Rather, this is one more sign of rough waters ahead for cable TV providers in North America. We've already seen some troubling signs that cable providers are getting ready to try putting the kibosh on the Internet streaming competition, so we can be sure that the cable providers will go down swinging. Given the fees that cable providers rake in over the lifetime of the typical cable box, we can also be sure that providers will be looking for ways to ensure that a box continues to be a fixture of future service offerings as well.

A new report from NPD In-Stat revealed that demand for cable boxes in North America is dropping due to the declining number of cable TV subscriber households along with cable TV operators tightening their budgets.


Dec 20 2011

News - Xbox 360 Dashboard Update Brings Video Playback Issues

If you have been enjoying the new video apps that came with the Xbox 360's recent dashboard update, but feel like your videos seem to have lost their sparkle, you are not alone. Eurogamer responded to the concerns by running histograms comparing RGB levels in screenshots of videos playing on pre- and post-update Xbox 360s and found that after applying the Metro-infused dashboard update Xbox 360 video playback suffers from a limited RGB range output. The result is a washed out image that is also more prone to revealing compression artifacts in dark images. The good news for gamers is that the issue appears to be limited to video playback and does not affect gameplay image quality. I don't personally watch a lot of video content on my Xbox, but I am curious whether anyone else had picked up on this issue?

The new dashboard forces video content to be run at "limited range RGB levels," versus "full range" RGB as the console previously did. The end result is a washed out look that has many videophiles quite unhappy.


Dec 20 2011

News - Cablevision Signs On with HBO Go and MAX Go

Time Warner Cable announced just a few days ago that they were going to start offering HBO Go and MAX Go access to their subscribers. Today, Cablevision announced that they too are going to start offering HBO Go and MAX Go to their subscribers. HBO will undoubtedly continue to pursue deals with the myriad regional and line-lease cable providers around the country, but Cablevision was the last of the major U.S. cable TV providers still holding out on HBO. Time Warner Cable's decision to sign on with HBO most likely played a role in Cablevision's decision given that the two companies vie for the same New England markets, particularly the highly lucrative New York market.


With Time Warner Cable and Cablevision on board, HBO Go is now available on all the major cable and IPTV operators, fulfilling the network’s quest to offer unfettered access to its content. HBO co-president Eric Kessler wrote in a statement that the service will soon be available to 98 percent of the network’s subscribers. 


HBO still has work ahead getting all of the cable companies to open access to HBO Go for over-the-top devices such as the Roku 2 and Xbox 360, and there is no word whether Cablevision will follow Comcast's lead in blocking device access, but this is another step in establishing HBO as a major streaming service that might compete with Amazon or Netflix. Cable companies have been reluctant to sign on with HBO Go because they fear that the streaming service might detract from the value of the cable channel that they depend on for a large part of their revenues, but the symbiotic nature of the HBO/cable TV relationship might ultimately make HBO an unlikely hero for the cable TV providers looking for a way to compete with pure streaming services such as Netflix without raising the ire of antitrust regulators.

Dec 19 2011

News - Time Warner Cable Apps Available for Android Phones

Time Warner Cable Android App

Time Warner Cable hasn't managed to put out an app for streaming live TV anywhere but the iPad so far, and has only recently started paying attention to Android tablets, but Android phones are getting some extra attention from TWC. TWC has let slip two new apps specifically formatted for Android phones. There is My TWC, an account management app, and more interestingly, TWCable TV, the first phone specific version of TWC's TV control and streaming app. Unfortunately, the live streaming part is still forthcoming. Time Warner Cable may be taking their time rolling out their mobile streaming app with all of the features turned on, but at least they will be spread out across all of the major apps and device types.

 iPhone and Android owners alike shouldn't have to wait long for their relief however, as the iPhone edition is slated to arrive in January, and ICS-enabled live TV streaming is still on the roadmap for "early next year." 


Dec 18 2011

News - Comparison of Paid Video Streaming Services Updated

Which video service is right for you? Are you looking for a pure streaming play and trying to decide between Netflix and Hulu Plus? Perhaps you prefer to rent or buy your videos and are trying to decide between iTunes or VUDU. Maybe Amazon Prime Instant Video, with its bit of everything approach is the best of all worlds. Fortunately, our friend Gabe over at Tech of the Hub stands ready to help you with your decision-making. He has updated his streaming video service comparison with a special focus on how Amazon Instant Video and Netflix stack up to each other. Be sure to check it out.

Streaming Video Services Comparison

The newest version of our paid streaming video streaming comparison is now available. This version goes a little deeper breaking out counts of TV episodes when possible. There is also a breakdown of closed captions on movies versus TV across the various services.

Tech of the Hub

Dec 16 2011

News - Console Media Streaming Usage Continues to Rise

The most recent Xbox 360 dashboard update has received a lot of attention here at Missing Remote and around the Internet because of the update's focus on enhancing access to streaming media. Thus it should come as no surprise that Nielsen is reporting that game consoles are increasingly being used for media streaming purposes. Nielsen recently released a report detailing usage patterns for the three major consoles for 2010 and 2011 and the percentage of time spent streaming media increased across the board, particularly for the Wii. Also of interest was that the Xbox 360 and Playstation 3 both saw drops in the amount of time spent watching media on DVD and Blu-Ray, suggesting changes in usage patterns that go far beyond the world of game consoles. It will be interesting to see what next year's numbers look like given Microsoft's increasing interest in pushing the Xbox 360 as a media streamer.

Nielsen Console Stats

Nielsen, the purveyor of all things statistical and demographic, published a new study this week on game console usage within the US. According to the report, released on Wednesday, gamers this year spent notably more time streaming video to their consoles than they did in 2010, due in large part to the growing availability of services like Netflix, Hulu, MLB Network and ESPN3. 


Dec 16 2011

News - Time Warner Finally Embraces HBO Go and MAX Go


HBO's streaming service, HBO Go, has been one of the most talked about streaming services of the last couple of years and provides an example of the future of media streaming that other premium networks are looking to emulate, but if you were an HBO subscriber with Time Warner Cable, then you were left out in the cold. It would appear that TWC has had a change of heart as they have inked a deal with HBO that will bring HBO Go and MAX Go to TWC subscribers early next year. Unfortunately, the details of the announcement do not indicate whether TWC subscribers will be access HBO Go and MAX Go on devices such as the Roku. Other cable providers have inexplicably chosen to block HBO Go and MAX Go on devices, forcing users to rely on a browser for access. Hopefully TWC will buck the trend and put pressure on other cable providers to open up their pipes a bit wider.

Well that took interminably long. Time Warner Inc and Time Warner Cable havefinally inked a deal that will bring the much-anticipated streaming service to TWC HBO and Cinemax subscribers within the next month.


Dec 16 2011

News - Updates for My Movies for WMC, WHS and My Movies Collection Management Released

My MoviesMy Movies has been getting a fairly steady stream of pre-release updates over the last few months, but the work has evidently paid off as final versions of the updates for My Movies, My Movies Collection Management, and My Movies for Windows Home Server 2011 are now available. My Movies and My Movies Collection Management have been updated to version 4.02 and My Movies for WHS 2011 moves to version 2.10. There is a huge list of additions, changes, and fixes so be sure to check out the full list after the break.

My Movies for Windows Media Center and My Movies Collection Management 4.02

Added: Check for TV Series with lost connection to disc title.
Added: Handling of discs that were unidentified during copying. Upcoming functionality for Windows Home Server.
Added: TV Episodes and disc titles that have only been partially watched now have a partially watched icon rather than a watched icon. This is only supported when using the internal Media Center player, and not on ISO files.

My Movies

Dec 16 2011

News - Revamped Netflix for iOS Brings Updated UI

A month or so ago, as Barnes & Noble and Amazon were getting ready to launch their new tablets, Netflix managed to work its way into the spotlight with a new UI for for its Android apps. It was definitely a nice improvement with a much cleaner UI and larger artwork that made using the app easier on tired old eyes like mine. It was also somewhat surprising as it seems like iOS usually gets all of the early love for new and revamped apps, but not his time as the iOS version of the new Netflix app is only now available. The Netflix 2.0 app is also optimized to better suit the iPad and adds support for streaming in Latin America. Unfortunately, the app does not support AirPlay. This is not too surprising, but it would have been a fantastic addition.

Netflix 2.0 for iOS

 It’s a huge improvement over the original if only because you don’t have to squint to see a movie’s image anymore — they’ve blown up the images and folded most of the text and ratings info into a movie or show’s individual entry.


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