Weekly News Roundup (15 March 2015)
Happy Birthday to me! Yesterday was my birthday, and so today, I’m already 0.00273972602 into my new age. Actually, it’s 0.00273224044 years older because 2016 is a leap year I believe. Nerd!
Quite a bit to get through this week, so let’s get started.
Counterfeit drugs that could harm your health or even cause death is the exact same thing as downloading Game of Thrones, according to the U.S. trade office. The USTR wants domain registrars to start cracking down and seizing domain names, all without due process. The USTR even went as far as listing domain registrar Tucows in its “notorious market” list for failing to shut down domain names after receiving information that these domain names were being used to offer content and products that infringe copyright or trademarks. Except these “notifications” have no legal merit or basis, and somehow Tucows is just supposed to take the word of whomever sent these notices and suspend the domain names. I wonder how easy it would be to have mpaa.com suspended, I’m sure they infringe on somebody’s rights if you look closely enough.
The worst part is that the USTR continues to use the same shtick, or rather, it continues to parrot the same line of argument of linking “rat poison filled” counterfeit drugs to movie downloads, both of which are technically copyright or trademark infringement. Show me how you can download rat poison filled counterfeit drugs from The Pirate Bay, and I’ll totally support your plan to allow private companies to suspend any domain name they want just because they want to.
Here’s an innovative way to cut down on movie piracy – stop releasing movies! That’s the latest plan from India’s Tamil Film Producer’s Council, which hopes that movie pirates will go out of business if there are no new movies to release. That may very well happen, but what’s stop new movie pirates from starting again once the release of new movies restart? Maybe they haven’t thought this through enough …
Australian pirates have moved beyond having to actually pay for pirated discs and whatnot, preferring to download freely (both as in freedom and in price). The industry-led push to toughen anti-piracy measures here in Australia has certainly had a major positive impact – for VPN providers! Australians are flocking to VPN services in order to escape anti-piracy monitors. Well at least somebody well be benefiting financially from these anti-piracy measures – it won’t be the rights holders, that’s for sure!
In this week’s Digital Video/HD news section, we have two new ways to stream movies and TV shows, and one new way which is blocked for Comcast customers.
Starting with the official announcement that HBO’s standalone over-the-top streaming product will now be known as HBO Now, and will be available from April for $14.99 per month. Most of this is not news (other than the April release date), but slightly disappointing will be the fact that for the first three month at least, HBO Now will only be available on Apple devices, no doubt due to “business decisions” made at the highest level (more on these kind of “business decisions” later).
With no international expansion plans for the service yet, it will be interesting to see how hard/easy it would be for people overseas to get access to the service. The VPN/smart DNS thing might not be where the problem is, neither will be getting the app on Apple devices (it’s easy to create a U.S. iTunes account) as it’s the payment method that could get tricky. HBO could easily do a Netflix and allow overseas credit cards without looking too closely (funny how so many people live in the 90210 ZIP code), but they could also be harsh and only accept valid US credit cards. Time will tell.
Even harsher is the fact that PS4 owners using Comcast won’t be able to stream HBO Go despite the release of the app on the game console, due to “business decisions” made by Comcast. Apparently, Comcast and Sony have yet to come to an agreement on the issue, which leaves PS4 HBO subscribers out in the cold. If you ever want a real world example of how the Internet could be ruined by the lack of Net Neutrality, this is it – ISPs having the power to deny you access to something just because they haven’t been paid.
So while HBO Go isn’t available on the latest PS4 consoles, how about Netflix coming to an oldie, but goodie, gaming console? If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to watch Netflix on the NES, wonder no more. Just plug the NES cartridge in, select the episode of House of Cards you’d like to watch, and off you go in all of its 8-bit glory (and don’t let the fact that due to the NES obviously not have Internet access, that everything you see in this video was just a rigged demo, ruin the fun for you). HBO should have a Hack Day as well to make a hack that doesn’t let mass media corporations from telling you how and where you can watch your shows!
Regardless of how you watch Netflix or HBO, one thing is for certain – everyone’s watching it! A new survey from Nielsen shows that 4 in 10 U.S. households are already subscribing to some for of subscription VOD, with 36% of all American households currently using Netflix.
35% of households with broadband still haven’t started using services like Netflix, so there’s definitely room to grow for the likes of Amazon and Hulu Plus, both of which lag behind Netflix in terms of market share (13% and 6.5% respectively). Plus there’s also the quarter of all American homes that do not yet have broadband.
What there is less room to grow is the amount of TV households watch per day, which (although having dropped slightly) is currently at 4 hours and 51 minutes. I don’t think I can manage to squeeze 4 hours and 51 minutes of free time every day from my already fairly lax schedule, so I don’t know how people are doing it!
February NPD results are in, and we’ll discuss it in more detail next week. Suffice to say, it’s business as usual which means the PS4 was on top yet again.
One year older, one year wiser? Um, probably not. I’d be happy to just be able to maintain my current level of intelligence for as long as possible, and no, that was not my birthday wish. See you next week (when I’ll be +0.0263157895 years older).