Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’


Pretty soon you won’t be able to tell the difference between Fox and Hulu, HBO and Netflix, or CNN and YouTube.

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

sneetchesThe recent jockeying for position and struggle to find an identity within the crowded and competitive world of network, cable, streaming video, and online television reminds me of one of my favorite Dr. Seuss stories, The Sneetches. The Sneetches were a group of yellow creatures, some with green stars on their bellies (a sign of distinction) and some without, until a character named Sylvester McMonkey McBean offers those without stars a chance to add them by going through his Star-On machine. In order to stay special the Sneetches formerly with stars happily pay the money to have them removed in his Star-Off machine. Ultimately this escalates, with the Sneetches running from one machine to the next, and to quote the good Doctor,

“until neither the Plain nor the Star-Bellies knew whether this one was that one… or that one was this one or which one was what one… or what one was who.”

The last few month, the news out of the “television” world has been very Seuss-like to say the least:

At this year’s winter TV press tour Kevin Reilly, entertainment president, Fox Broadcasting Company, revealed that his network plans to use web content as a development tool for the airwaves. “Something that starts in digital could be the next big primetime hit… We have an expertise, and a history, and proficiency, and a primetime audience base,” he confirms in this Atlantic.com article about 5 Ways the Networks Want to Change How You Watch TV. Reilly goes on to use Web Therapy starring Lisa Kudrow (of Friends fame) as one example of a web-only series that has successfully made the switch and is now aired on Showtime.

In an effort to kick start their declining subscription base, Netflix is beginning to act more like a network rather than your average streaming video provider. By jumping into the original programming waters, Netflix plans to release three new series in 2012 – starting with Lilyhammer, a crime comedy set in Norway’s former Winter Olympics headquarters, starring The Soprano’s Steven Van Zandt. Not to be outdone and fresh off a year where they realized 60 percent revenue growth in 2011, the web streaming service Hulu is launching its first ever original scripted series. Battleground, a mockumentary series described as “The Office meets The West Wing, premieres February 14, explains, this opinion brief on TheWeek.com.

And remember when YouTube was just a site where you could watch short clips of people doing funny and unusual things? Well, last week Reuters joined CNN and the BBC by unveiling its own channel to be shown on the popular video sharing site. The channels will show original content from Reuters on YouTube, which will allow them to leverage an army of over 3,000 reporters worldwide.

I doubt all the players involved with getting content to the masses will end up in blissful harmony like our friends the Sneetches, but it should be fun watching them run from one machine to the next having their green stars removed and re-added over again.

What are your thoughts? Please share them with me here on BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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In PR and Media: September 19, 2011

Monday, September 19th, 2011

Kindle Gets AmazonLocal Offers (MediaPost)
“Those barely discounted Amazon Kindles with Special Offers that launched earlier this year have become the hottest commodity for Amazon in the e-reader market. Who would have thought that discounting a Kindle just $30 or so in return for getting sponsor messages on your screensaver would be so appealing?”

Adbusters-Organized Protest Occupies Wall Street (MinOnline)
“It wasn’t quite the turnout Adbusters magazine originally had expected, but the counter-cultural activist magazine helped organize a march on Wall Street on Saturday Sept. 17. Dubbed “Occupy Wall Street” by the magazine, the effort to assemble people via mobile phones, Tweets and web site notifications had hoped to organize thousands to join the protests.”

In Kabul, It’s Not MTV, It’s a Mission (New York Times)
“Tom Freston is a pretty mellow guy, but sitting in the corner of a downtown Manhattan restaurant last week he was getting very excited as he talked about his new project. ‘Every time I go there, there are kids doing a bunch of new things, making all kinds of interesting programming,’ he said.”

Associated Press Teams With 40 Newspapers On Mobile Coupons (PaidContent.org)
“With newspapers having suffered through 20 straight quarters of decline—and no end in sight—a collaborative effort on the part of the Associated Press and 40 newspapers is designed to play on two of the industry’s last advertising strengths: digital and pre-print circulars.”

Breaking: Netflix Splits DVD And Streaming Businesses; Creates Qwikster For DVDs (TechCrunch)
“Netflix CEO Reed Hastings just dropped a bombshell. In the wake of a rapid decline in Netflix’s stock price last week, Hastings is taking a bold step by separating the DVD and video streaming services. The DVD-by-mail service will now be called Qwikster, and the streaming service will maintain the Netflix brand.”

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Who Needs Netflix When You Can See Your Favorite Films on Facebook? It depends!

Friday, March 18th, 2011

by Lauren Shapiro*

netflixWith over 20 million subscribers, Netflix has been dominating the at-home-movie scene. As a subscription-based platform, Netflix allows users to watch unlimited TV episodes and movies via the Internet on either a Mac or PC or stream the content to a television using devices such as Xbox 360, Wii, or PS3. A subscription, according to their website, is $7.99 a month for unlimited streaming video or for DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming video, plans start at $9.99 a month.

However, Facebook’s 500 million friends will not be counted out, as soon to be seen (pun intended), the social networking site will be a potential competitor to Netflix.  Warner Brothers’ announcement of their availability on Facebook comes with little surprise as telecasts on Facebook have become more and more popular. Even the President and First Lady have taken to the Facebook airwaves to promote the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention on March 10th

The Warner Brothers’ Facebook application will allow users to choose from a select number of full-length films priced at 30 Facebook credits. Facebook credits are an online currency that allow users to purchase applications and games on the site. Thirty credits equate to $3. Users can also acquire Facebook credits through applications and games also available on the site. Once the credits are redeemed, in this manner, the user has 48 hours to watch the movie. 

But don’t think that Facebook is alone in the quest to provide pay-per-view movies. Google’s YouTube has been offering online movie rentals since 2010, allowing users to access independent films and recently more popular films like Scary Movie 4 and Hannibal Rising. According to the YouTube Store, movie rentals range between $2.99 and $4.99. Other lesser known services have begun to crop-up as well. For instance, Zediva streams new releases through what amounts to a loophole in copyright law. The site offers “new release movies you can’t get on Amazon, Netflix, or iTunes that cost $2 for a digital rental that lasts two full weeks,” explains this Wired.com article. “The company literally rents you a DVD and a DVD player, with your computer, tablet or Google TV as the remote control.”

Will Facebook give Netflix a run for its money? It seems that Netflix users and Warner Brothers Facebook application users will be targeting different consumers. Netflix users are avid movie watchers and actually save money by paying a monthly fee rather than a paying per view. However, Facebook may gain viewership with users who are on the go and want to rent one movie at a time inexpensively. Also, Facebook users who accumulate credits have the ability to use their credits to rent movies. The Warner Brother’s Facebook app pales in breadth and depth to the movie selection offered by Netflix, however, only time will tell how much of a threat Facebook’s movie rentals will truly be to the reigning streaming-video service.

If you are a subscriber of Netflix and a user of Facebook, will you be trading in your subscription? What about for one of these other services increasingly becoming available? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

***

 *Bio: Soon after graduating from the Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, in 2006 with a B.A. in communication and a B.S. in business/marketing, I joined the BurrellesLuce client services team. In 2008, I completed my master’s degree in corporate and organizational communications and now serve as Director of Client Services. I am passionate about researching and understanding the role of email in shaping relationships from a client relation/service standpoint as well as how miscommunication occurs within email, which was the topic of my thesis. Through my posts on Fresh Ideas, I hope to educate and stimulate thoughtful discussions about corporate communications and client relations, further my own knowledge on this subject area, as well as continue to hone my skills as a communicator. Twitter: @_LaurenShapiro_ LinkedIn: laurenrshapiro Facebook: BurrellesLuce 

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FCC approves $30 Billion NBC – Comcast deal…with many strings attached

Friday, January 21st, 2011
Image Source: IWatchStuff.com

Image Source: IWatchStuff.com

The Federal Communications Commission and the Justice Department approved a pending $30 billion joint venture which allows Comcast to own 51 percent of NBC Universal. The approval comes 13 months after the two sides announced their plan to merge one of the nation’s largest cable and internet operators with a broadcaster whose assets include NBC and Telemundo, USA, Syfy, Bravo, and Universal Pictures. Comcast controls 24 percent of the nation’s cable subscribers and NBC owns 12 percent of what is viewed on television. A match made in heaven? Not so fast… Over the last year this deal was met with heavy opposition from consumer advocate groups who argued consumers would have less influence over the newly formed company while online distributors worried about the possibility of having to pay a premium for NBC’s content, which would be controlled by one of their largest competitors in the distribution space. (Source: LA Times Blog, Entertainment News Buzz, January 2011.)

On paper this looks like an unstoppable combination in the making, and could potentially open the door for similar deals between content providers and cable and online providers. Although some were successful and some flopped, this is not the first time we’ve seen this type of marriage before – CBS/Viacom, AOL/Time Warner, Time Warner/Turner. With Comcast controlling NBC’s network and cable shows as well as their movies, it would seem their 15 million subscription base would be the perfect captive audience to view their content with competing cable and online providers forced to pay a kings ransom for the rights to their shows and movies. The FCC, however, put conditions on the deal to prevent any funny business with the hopes of maintaining as much “net neutrality” as possible.

One of the conditions requires Comcast to make its content available to all rival cable and satellite distributors as well as online distributors, and has to offer it’s content for the same price to everyone. They are also required to sell their internet service as a standalone service – this is significant since online distributors (Netflix) gives you the ability to access content without a cable subscription but requires internet service. The FCC is also asking Comcast to relinquish its day-to-day control of their online site HULU, allowing them to maintain an ownership stake but stripping them of any voting rights or the ability to suddenly make content unavailable from the site. (Source: Reuters, January, 18, 2011.)

So before everybody bows down to this newly formed Media behemoth, let’s remember… a lot has changed over the last 13 months since their initial announcement, and the conditions put on the new merger by the FCC (if enforced) will help neutralize any abuses of power. The consumer now has more options with the rise of online providers (Netflix, Google, and Apple TV) and will ultimately choose their services based on the quality of the entertainment, not the amount of channels offered or where the channel falls on the dial.

The pressure now falls squarely on the shoulders of NBC Universal. Without quality content from NBC, Comcast will quickly begin to wonder why they paid all of that money and went through all of the trouble of diversifying their business. The competition is sure to be fierce between cable and online providers; content providers will continue to fight for better licensing agreements for their content and in the end consumers will also have to ask themselves… is it all worth it?

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Battles Rage Over Content, as Netflix Changes the Game in the Web TV and Streaming Video Space Once Again

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

ba-netflix0811_f_SFCG1281474279With the help of Wikipedia, I learned the different types of battles that are fought. If you’ve been following what is going on in the latest turf wars between the cable providers (Time Warner Cable, Comcast), online providers (Netflix, Hulu) and media Companies (Fox, CBS) – you’d see very different strategies deployed by each side. All have one common goal in mind…control the distribution of entertainment to consumers, and all seems fair in this war. 

A “battle of attrition” aims to inflict losses on an enemy that are less sustainable compared to one’s own losses.

According to this New York Times, Netflix recently made a bold move by launching a new “streaming only” service, offering unlimited streaming movies and TV shows for a mere $7.99 a month. Also, in addition to Netflix paying the Post Office a whopping $500 million dollars a year in postage to mail out their signature red envelopes filled with disks, they will now pay studios another hefty sum for rights to their movies by recently completing a combined deal with Paramount, MGM and Lionsgate for one billion dollars. This does not include deals Netflix made earlier in the year with other major studios, such as Sony, Warner Brothers, Universal and 20th Century Fox.

So why are cable providers like Time Warner Cable and Comcast getting hot under the collar? Let’s take a closer look:

Netflix currently pays Starz, a pay TV channel, about 15 cents a month for each subscriber (which allows their customers to watch streaming movies from Sony and Disney), pennies compared to the $4 to $5 a month that cable and satellite owners pay for access to Starz, according to Rich Greenfield, an analyst at BTIG Research.

These types of deals, which allow consumers to access a larger catalogue of movies and bypass their local cable provider by accessing them online, couldn’t come at a worse time for companies like Time Warner Cable and Comcast. Cable providers already reported a net loss of 119,000 customers in the third quarter of 2010, the largest decline in 30 years.

A “battle of envelopment” involves an attack on one or both flanks.

Comcast is fighting back on two fronts by slapping Level 3 Communications, a provider of internet backbone services, which handles Netflix content, with “additional traffic fees.” Incidentally, Comcast, who’s acquisition of NBC is imminent, already competes directly with Netflix through their new acquisition of Hulu (Comcast owns 32 percent stake in Hulu). The rate hike could easily be seen as a way for Comcast to milk their competition, however, they can make the argument that Netflix’s massive volume is overtaxing their system and therefore should pay more. A recent study by Sandvine, a broadband equipment maker, showed that Netflix’s 16 million customers accounted for more than 20 percent of all Internet download traffic in North America during peak evening hours)

A “battle of encounter” is a meeting engagement where the opposing sides collide in the field without either having prepared their attack or defense.

If all of this wasn’t enough to make cable executives nervous, Netflix followed up their unlimited streaming offer by announcing a deal with newly formed film studio, FilmDistrict. As highlighted in this New York Observer article, the part of this deal that could prove to be a game changer is that it doesn’t include the standard “pay TV window” wherein new releases go to the cable industry first, then premier on Netlifx a few months later. 

According to The New York Post, Netflix is also in talks with studios about gaining access to “current episodes” of primetime TV shows and is willing to pay between $70,000 and $100,000 per episode. This is a first since Netflix has always offered only TV shows from past seasons.

Through all of this, media companies have been in constant negotiations with all of the “content distributors” – cable providers (Time Warner Cable and Comcast) and online providers (Netflix) – with behemoths like Google, Sony and Apple waiting in the wings as all three plan to compete in the game of online streaming distribution. Google, however, has already met heavy resistance from the networks. ABC, CBS, and NBC who all said they would not allow Google TV to stream full episodes of their shows. This should make for some interesting future negotiations between the two sides. But I wouldn’t be surprised if the networks suddenly changed their mind if Google TV’s relatively new service begins to take off.

A “battle of annihilation” is one in which the defeated party is destroyed in the field.

So what about the consumer, the eyeballs everyone’s vying for in all of this? I for one couldn’t be happier with all of the choices I suddenly have to watch movies or TV shows. The Internet is once again threatening the “middleman,” or, as I like to think of it, just another case of the Internet once again replacing one of the “brokers” of the world. We’ve seen it happen to some extent with real estate, stock trading … and now entertainment.  For 30 years cable providers have been the “brokers” for entertainment, bringing media and consumers together. It appears, for the moment at least, another “broker” is in jeopardy of once again being replaced by the Internet.

So what are your thoughts? Who do you think will win the on-going battle? Are you happy with the choices you have to access entertainment content? Please share your thoughts with me and the readers of BurrellesLuce Fresh Ideas.

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