Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’

Weekly News Roundup (October 27, 2019)

Sunday, October 27th, 2019

Never have so many people so disinterested in the NFL watch Monday Night Football with such anticipation before. That’s right, the whole synergy things between Disney and Disney owned ESPN meant that the new Star Wars trailer was shown during half-time on MNF.

I myself took part in the craziness by trying to get a really good quality 4K upscaled trailer to the masses as soon as possible, even live-tweeting the entire process.

And I guess I got caught up in the madness (and yes, I’ve already pre-booked my movie ticket), and subsequently uploaded a French/Canadian version of the trailer, a dialogue-free music version of the trailer, and just yesterday, the original studio released 4K version of the trailer.

No more The Rise of Skywalker uploads, I promise.

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While big-budget Hollywood blockbusters are usually the ones that get all the attention, the video streaming industry has quietly overtaken Hollywood in terms of revenue just this year, globally.

And this is why every other media conglomerate is launching their own streaming platform these days, and so it makes total sense that the two rather large non-Disney ones, Warner Media and NBC Universal, would be launching their own as well.

NBC Universal’s Peacock won’t be taking on Netflix, not directly anyway

Nobody really wants to directly take on the behemoth that’s Netflix though. Amazon has long said that Prime Video is really just a way to sell Prime memberships and get people addicted to shopping on Amazon. Hulu has focused more on TV and catch-up content, although it’s starting to take Netflix head-on. And Warner’s HBO Max and NBC’s Peacock will also be avoiding direct conflict with Netflix by going after cable subscribers, with both offering free subscriptions to this demographic (and perhaps the most likely to not have a Netflix subscription), providing a transition from cable to streaming without people having to spend their hard-earned.

It’s a good strategy because asking people to spend money on yet another subscription service is going to be hard, especially when any one of these services would have more than enough content to keep you entertained (although not necessarily *all* the content you may want to watch).

But that also points to another problem. Is there such a thing as too much content? Too many new original shows and movies from too many platforms, even if some of them are “free”, that you just don’t have time to watch it all? I myself am still catching up on shows that I first added to my watch list three years ago, so I guess things are only going to get worse.

And this whole Golden Age of Television™️ thing isn’t helping! Why does everything have to be so good?!

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Well, the only solution I can think of is to spend more time watching stuff, which is what I’m going to do right now. See you next time!

Weekly News Roundup (October 20, 2019)

Sunday, October 20th, 2019

So the Rise of Skywalker trailer didn’t materialise last week, but I promise that it’s coming this (U.S.) Monday. I’m sure this time because ESPN, of all people, actually posted a video announcing the release of the trailer, which will be shown for the first time during Monday Night Football.

Well, if ESPN can post a video promoting a Star Wars trailer, I can certainly do the same!

Still not a huge amount of news, but we do have some (and by some, I mean one story), so here we are …

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It’s not a great time to be Netflix right now. They’ve largely managed to see to the threat of Amazon and Hulu, despite the latter spending more and more on content. But they now have to contend with new offerings from Apple and Disney, namely Apple TV+ and Disney+.

To make things worse, two new players have announced they’ll enter the market, with Warner Media’s HBO Max and NBC Universal’s Peacock, both trying to tap into the lucrative streaming scene.

NBC Universal’s Peacock joins HBO Max, Disney+, CBS All Access, Apple TV+, Amazon and Hulu in competing with Netflix

But is Netflix worried? Nah, say the company’s bosses. CEO Reed Hastings was a bit too casual with his statement last month that November, when Apple TV+/Disney+ launches, will usher in a “whole new world” for streaming – and the market interpreted this as a suggestion that things are going to change (and not for the better) for Netflix. Never mind that Hastings was clearly trying to use an “Aladdin” reference to have some fun with the whole Disney+ thing, but the truth is, Netflix perhaps should be worried.

With Warner, Universal, Disney, three of the largest studios, going their own way and taking their content with them, it leaves Netflix increasing dependent on their original productions. Productions that, without a theatrical and home video sales run, are almost never profitable in any meaningful direct way. Our sister site Streambly has been monitoring the binge-watching bahaviour of Netflix subscribers and the most popular shows on Netflix are not the ones you think. They are shows like ‘Friends’ (NBC), ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ (NBC), ‘The Big Bang Theory’ (CBS) and ‘The Office’ (NBC). Shows that, in time, will probably no longer be allowed to have a home on Netflix. And that’s not to mention all the blockbuster movies that will no longer be made available on Netflix.

So while Hastings may have been just joking around with the “whole new world” statement, what he says is actually quite true. We are entering a whole new, fragmented world of streaming that won’t be a friendly one for Netflix. For the consumer, we will have access to more streaming content than ever before, but only if we’re willing to pay the price, and when combined, the price won’t be cheap. Some of these offerings will probably fail to impress and will die away naturally and we will see some consolidation again, but before then, things will be more complicated (and more expensive) than they need to be.

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That’s it for this week. Come back on Monday night (Tuesday afternoon, Australian time) for the Rise of Skywalker trailer, one of the biggest trailers this year. And maybe I’ll see you this time next week again, assuming we have something interesting to talk about. Until then …

Weekly News Roundup (September 1, 2019)

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

And we’re back! Quite a few things have happened since the last WNR, and I know I promised to keep this thing regular, but sometimes everything else seems to just get in the way. No more promises though, but I will try my best in the future.

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If you’re an Aussie and you like the sort of things I like, then you would have been ecstatic about the news of Disney+ coming down under, and for the really good price of $8.99 (that translates to less than the US pricing of $6.99).

What’s more, with Disney’s fan event, the D23 Expo, happening just a short while after the pricing announcement, Disney used the event to give fans even more information about the service.

We got trailers for the new Star Wars TV series The Mandalorian (and the trailer looked fantastic – if the show if half as good, it will be epic), original films Lady and the Tramp and Noelle. There was also a bunch of announcement for new Marvel shows, and a big one, Ewan McGregor coming back as Obi-Wan in a new TV series.

From a technical standpoint, there was also some exciting news that all Disney+ accounts will have access to 4K, HDR, Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. This makes Disney+ by far the cheapest streaming plan to included these advanced features, $9 per month cheaper than the Netflix plan with the equivalent feature.

Those in the U.S. can also bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for only $12.99 per month, saving almost $5.

A screenshot showing the Disney+ Interface
Disney+ will be worth having

With so much enticing content, a great price and unexpected feature-set, it looks like Disney is very very serious about going head to head with Netflix. All the talk about Disney+ not being a competitor for Netflix (and most of that talk is coming from Disney, which is telling) is technically correct, but with Hulu under its wings, there’s no reason, from a content point of view, that Disney can’t take on Netflix.

It will be good news for us consumers, not so much Netflix shareholders, I think.


And in the near future, when you’re watching a 4K Disney+ stream on your new TV, you might notice that there might be a new mode on your TV called ‘Filmmaker Mode’. If you see it, you should enable it.

Announced this week by the UHD Alliance, along with CE partners Panasonic, LG and VIZIO and along with the Directors Guild of America and The Film Foundation, Filmmaker Mode will be a shortcut that turns off all the post-processing features on the TV that distracts from the film-watching experience. You know the ones – motion smoothing, the over-sharpening and unnatural colour corrections, and when combined, makes movies look more like daytime soap operas.

The logo for Filmmaker Mode
Filmmaker Mode will make it easy to see films the way they are supposed to be seen

But now, with just one setting, you can watch the film as the filmmakers intended, with the right colour reproduction, and more importantly, the right framerate.

The new mode seems to be made for UHD Blu-ray discs, but there’s no reason why it can’t be used for streaming as well. So there won’t be any more excuses for films to be played back with the soap opera effect turned on. No excuses!!


That’s it for the week. Back to making trailers for me. Until next time!

Weekly News Roundup (July 21, 2019)

Sunday, July 21st, 2019

Welcome back to another edition of the WNR. Hope you’ve been keeping busy? I’ve been busying myself with this and that, include a few more trailers since we last talked (Spies in Disguise, Mulan, Onward, Playing with Fire, the hugely popular Top Gun: Maverick, and the stuff nightmares are made of in the form of the new trailer for Cats).

Please, Hollywood, stop making human-animal CGI hybrids. Learn the lessons from the Sonic trailer, I beg of you!

Oh yes, the news.

Copyright

Google’s DMCA take-down regime is in the news again, this time it has been co-opted by pirates and scammers to their own advantage. Apparently, people are pretending to be rights-holders and submitting fake take-down notices, to remove the URLs of competitor sites. One person recently pretended to be the MPAA to take down links from a Turkish piracy site.

A screenshot of Google's Copyright Transparency Report website
Google’s DMCA take-down regime under question over fake notices

It’s possible that it’s other piracy sites that are doing this, in order to knock off competitors and increase their own rankings. It could also be scammers trying to do the same thing.

And all of this is possible because Google often does not verify the identities of those submitting DMCA notices, and so anyone could pretend to be a rights-holder and get their submissions approved, as long as the sites they’re removing are genuine piracy sites.

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Things are getting more difficult for Netflix. Not only is Disney+ on the way Warner Media has now also decided to launch their own streaming platform, combining HBO’s premium content with Warner’s vast library to form HBO Max.

HBO Max logo
HBO Max may cost as much as Netflix and Disney+ combined, but will have all of HBO’s premium offerings along with everything Warner has to offer

Unlike the much cheaper Disney+, HBO Max goes for the other end of the market and will be priced higher than Netflix (and Disney+ combined). The premium-ness of HBO is the main reason for the higher price, although one could argue that shows like ‘Stranger Things’, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ and ‘When They See Us’ has the budget and quality to out-HBO HBO. It’s an interesting pricing strategy, but one that I’m not sure would work.

It’s also not great news for us consumers. HBO Max will increase fragmentation in a market that’s already becoming far too fragmented. With Disney (and Fox) pulling their stuff from Netflix, and now Warner possibly doing the same, it means you now have to subscribe to yet another service if you don’t want to miss out on some of the best content.

But it’s undoubtedly worse news for Netflix, and the most recent results for the company showed it actually went backward when it came to domestic (U.S.) subscriber numbers (our sister site Streambly will have more on this soon). This, coupled with ballooning content acquisition and production costs, means Netflix has some important decisions to make on what kind of service it wants to be.

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And that’s it for the week. Excuse me while I go and meditate to try and get the disturbing pictures of human-cat hybrids out of my mind. Until next time …

Weekly News Roundup (March 31, 2019)

Sunday, March 31st, 2019

Welcome to another edition of the WNR. It’s going to be a light one this week, as while we have a big announcement from Apple to cover, that was pretty much it.

Still, it gives us plenty to talk about this week, so let’s not waste any time.

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So the big news of the week was Apple’s entry into streaming video courtesy of their upcoming Apple TV+ service.

First of all, let’s talk about what it isn’t. It isn’t really a Netflix rival, at least not yet, because Apple TV+ will only host original content that Apple themselves have produced. So there won’t be any third-party licensed content that’s still the bulk of content on platforms like Netflix and Amazon.

Photo showing Jenifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell at the Apple TV+ launch event
Apple will hope its big star line-up will help to make Apple TV+ a success

And even with relation to original content, Apple’s content spend of $1 billion is only a fraction of Netflix’s annual spend on original content, so Apple’s ambitions, so far, are much more limited compared to Netflix’s.

Apple TV+ also won’t work on most of the non-Apple devices you actually own. While Apple is opening up Apple TV slightly, allowing it to work on selected smart TVs and even on the Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV+ won’t be accessible on your Android device, on your PC or in your browser. This could change at some point, but it looks like Apple wants the content on Apple TV+ to be mainly consumed on an Apple device (which is not surprising).

Using unique content to draw users into the Apple ecosystem is one thing, but what Apple may be even keener to do is to keep the Apple TV hub relevant in the age of Roku, Amazon Fire and Google Chromecast. Apple can’t make their 30% off of Netflix if Netflix doesn’t think it’s worth having their app integrated into Apple TV, and Netflix won’t think Apple’s 30% money grab is worth it if Apple TV is not popular enough.

Apple will hope that exclusive Apple TV+ content from the likes of Steven Spielberg, Oprah, J.J. Abrams, and shows starring the likes of
Jenifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, will help grow the Apple TV user base. Or at least grow it enough to make Apple TV an essential platform to be part of.

This talk of Apple reminded me of an old news story from way back. Way back as in when Steve Jobs was still alive, and when Toshiba’s HD DVD was still trying to beat Blu-ray. Jobs said then that Blu-ray was a “bag of hurt” and despite Apple being a member and a board member of the Blu-ray Disc Association, Apple never did bother to include a Blu-ray drive with any of their computers.

Apple never bothered with Blu-ray, but discs still have a place

Now Apple is getting into video distribution having skipped discs entirely, and this probably means something for discs (and not in a good news kind of way). But discs do still have a place (anyone who regularly tries to download high-quality 4K content will know this is the case), and they will be around for a while yet, even if they are no longer the default go-to for most people. What do you think? Do you still use discs? Let us know by voting in our latest poll.

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That’s all I have for you think week. Let’s wait and see what the next week brings us.