Posts Tagged ‘Netflix’

Internet TV partners: Intel and Adobe, Roku and Amazon, Netflix and LG

With the Consumer Electronics Show just around the corner, it’s traditional for companies to push out a flurry of pre-show announcements, hopefully clearing the way for more exciting news. Today, a number of industry players announced partnerships relating to getting Internet content onto the TV – a theme that will, once again, be prevalent at CES.

Roku and Amazon

Roku’s set-top box will soon be adding support for the streaming version of Amazon’s on-demand video service. Previously, the hardware was a one trick pony, with Netflix ‘Watch Instantly’ functionality only. From the press release: “Beginning in early 2009, the Roku Player… will offer access to Amazon Video On Demand’s more than 40,000 commercial-free movies and television shows enabling Roku customers for the first time to watch new release movies titles instantly.”

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TiVo gets its Netflix fix

The roll out of TiVo’s support for Netflix’s ‘Watch Instantly’ Internet TV service is now complete, reports Zatz Not Funny. As of today, “TiVo Series 3, HD, and HD XL subscribers who also partake in an unlimited Netflix plan will be able to stream a wide variety of video content at no additional cost.”

Dave Zatz’s verdict:

While the hybrid Netflix+TiVo interface isn’t as snappy as my Xbox or Roku boxes, receiving Netflix digital video on a DVR – a primary television set-top box – is extremely significant. Also notable, this represents the first time TiVo has facilitated high definition Internet video.

Dave’s only real complaint is that there’s not enough compelling content available through Netflix’s streaming catalog, something that should improve over time.

As I noted when Netflix first made the announcement, adding support for TiVo marks an impressive six months for the company in which it has delivered on its promise to bring its Internet TV offering on to many devices beyond the PC: Netflix streaming is now available on game consoles (Microsoft’s XBox 360), set-top boxes (Roku), DVRs (TiVo) and Internet connected DVD players (LG and Samsung).

Check out ZNF’s video demo of Netflix on TiVo after the jump…

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New XBox 360 games carry Netflix streaming promotion

More Netflix news…

Netflix is promoting trials of its ‘Watch Instantly’ streaming video service with select Xbox 360 games, reports Streaming Media’s Dan Rayburn.

In a joint marketing effort with partner Microsoft, a 48 hour ‘Gold’ pass to XBox Live that includes the Netflix promotion, can be found in the box of US retail copies of the newly released James Bond game, although access to Netflix on XBox 360 won’t be available until later this month when the previously announced Dashboard update is rolled out. Rayburn says this is the “the beginning of what is expected to be some massive marketing efforts by both Netflix and Microsoft for the new service.”

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Not exclusive to XBox, Netflix HD streaming coming to Roku too

Last week Engadget reported that the XBox 360’s support for Netflix streaming would include a limited amount of HD content too – initially around 300 titles – prompting many to ask if High Def content would also make its way onto Roku’s Netflix set-top box.

Dan Rayburn quickly followed up to confirm that, despite the lack of an official company announcement, Roku’s hardware was at least technically capable of streaming Netflix in HD, leading to speculation that Netflix HD streaming could be a Microsoft exclusive, for the time being anyway.

Not so.

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After on-off relationship, Netflix streaming comes to TiVo

It may have taken four years but they got there in the end. Netflix and TiVo today announced that the two companies have began rolling out access to Netflix’s ‘Watch Now’ video streaming service on Internet connected TiVos.

As Dave Zatz notes:

The process probably hasn’t played out exactly the way TiVo and Netflix anticipated when they initially inked a development agreement in 2004… In fact, the struggle to find content and move this project forward drove Netflix CEO Reed Hastings to declare there’s “no work going on,” “no content,” and “no point” in 2005. Fast forward a few years and it’s pretty clear that the landscape has drastically shifted. Content is everywhere and Netflix intends to serve as many platforms as possible: “We want to be integrated on every Internet-connected device, game system, high-definition DVD player and dedicated Internet set-top box.”

It’s pretty impressive that over the last six months Netflix has delivered on its promise to bring its Internet TV offering on to many devices beyond the PC. What sounded like pie in the sky – especially in light of the company’s on-off relationship with TiVo – has actually panned out, in which Netflix streaming is available on game consoles (Microsoft’s XBox 360), set-top boxes (Roku), DVRs (TiVo) and Internet connected DVD players (LG and Samsung).

See also: Don’t call it a hobby: Netflix and TiVo continue to push Internet TV into the living room

Want to hear more from Netflix’s CEO? We got a spare ticket for NewTeeVee Live in San Fran. on Nov 13 where he’ll be speaking. (See: NewTeeVee Live: last100 reader discount and ticket giveaway)

Netflix streaming to Mac courtesy of Microsoft! Could Nokia phones be next?

Oh the irony

Netflix has finally began rolling out a version of its video streaming service for Mac users, and it comes courtesy of Microsoft. Although only available initially to “a small percentage of new Netflix subscribers”, with a full roll-out anticipated by the end of the year, the new PC-based version of the company’s ‘Watch Now’ service is powered by Microsoft’s Flash competitor Silverlight, a technology that crucially includes its own cross-platform ‘studio approved’ DRM solution, thus enabling Netflix to support both Windows-based PCs and now those running MacOS (Intel only).

Along with adding Mac support, Netflix says the adoption of Silverlight delivers a number of usability improvements too, including “a faster, easier connection” and “a breakthrough in timeline navigation that vastly improves the use of fast-forwarding and rewinding.” Yes you read that right, fast-forwarding and rewinding. Who said the revolution wouldn’t be televised?

In the future, it’s very possible that Neflix’s use of Silverlight could see its streaming service reach even more devices beyond PCs and set-top boxes currectly supported. In particular I’m thinking of mobile phones and Internet tablets from Nokia. The Finnish handset maker has already announced that it plans to support Silverlight on future handsets, starting with those powered by S60, with S40 and Maemo devices to follow. And from a marketing perspective, a partnership with Netflix would make a lot of sense as it would surely help the company shift more handsets in the US. In this regard, Nokia has previous form too. The company’s flagship smartphone, the N96, is in part being sold in the UK based on its support for the BBC’s iPlayer service.

Don't call it a hobby: Netflix and TiVo continue to push Internet TV into the living room

No longer content with dissing his company’s own offering, Apple CEO Steve Jobs is now calling the whole product category a “hobby”. But that isn’t stopping others from forging ahead to bring Internet TV into the living room, with both TiVo and Netflix rolling out partnerships this week to give their customers more content and hardware choices respectively. But first back to what Jobs said during the company’s Q4 earnings call on Tuesday.

“I think the whole category is still a hobby right now. I don’t think anybody has succeeded at it and actually the experimentation has slowed down”, said Jobs in answer to one analyst’s question about how Apple sees the digital living room opportunity in the next year. “A lot of the early companies that were trying things have faded away, so I’d have to say that given the economic conditions, given the venture capital outlooks and stuff, I continue to believe it will be a hobby in 2009.” (via Seeking Alpha)

That’s a fairly dire prognosis from Jobs, and suggests that the company might purposely be taking its eye off the ball when it comes to the living room, especially as Apple pursues more developed and profitable markets such as that of the iPhone (although you should always be careful when taking what Jobs says at face value). Either way, for those companies that are still in the market, now seems like an ideal opportunity for greater experimentation and to give consumers more non-Apple choices. On that note, let’s return to those announcements.

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Roku to open its Netflix set-top box

Roku is once again talking up plans to open its Netflix-only set-top box to other online video providers. Talking at the Streaming Media West conference, Roku CEO Anthony Wood was quoted as saying:

“We’re going to release the software developer kit [SDK], so anyone can publish any channel, and users can access web content on their TVs.”

Of course, just releasing an official SDK won’t lead to the Internet TV set-top box nirvana that we, and Roku, are seeking. For that to happen, Netflix’s competitors will need to be persuaded that it’s worth their while to actually build something using Roku’s SDK, otherwise poular services such as Hulu, BBC iPlayer or YouTube, for example, may never make it onto the set-top box.

As Dave Zatz advises: Roku needs to “continue working the phones” in order to build the kind of partnerships that will lead to more quality content. Because its content that will ultimately lead to more hardware sales, which is of course where Roku makes its money. “There’s a much larger audience of potential Hulu and YouTube viewers than there are Netflix subscribers”, notes Zatz.

One potential sticking point: Earlier this year Netflix made a small investment in Roku, which could make things awkward as Roku attempts to woo competing content partners.

LG's Netflix streaming Blu-ray player announced. What, no Wi-Fi?

We already knew that Netflix was working with LG Electronics to integrate its Watch Now video streaming service into some juicy new hardware. And today the two companies announced what that hardware will be.

Available this fall, the LG BD300 Network Blu-ray Disc Player, in addition to being able to play high definition Blu-ray discs and upscale standard DVDs, will give Netflix subscribers the option of streaming any of the 12,000 movies and TV episodes available on Watch Now to their TVs at no additional cost.

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In a smart move Netflix rules out pay-per-view video service

While Netflix’s video streaming service only offers 10,000 movies and TV episodes compared to the 100,000 titles available via DVD, the company’s all-you-can-eat subscription strategy is the right one, and differentiates it from an increasingly crowded market of pay-per-view offerings. A market which, CEO Reed Hastings says, the company has no plans to get into.

“We don’t plan to enter the pay-per-view segment, where Apple, Amazon, Sony and others focus”, Reed told shareholders and analysts during Friday’s second-quarter earnings call. He also ruled out an ad-supported offering too, where, for example, Hulu and YouTube compete.

“Both of those segments will likely be substantial, but our subscription segment will also be large and will provide Netflix plenty of room for growth”, says Reed.

See also: Netflix is finally coming to Xbox 360, which is getting a dashboard makeover and Mii-like avatars

The problem with the majority of pay-per-view online video services, both rental and to-own, is that they remain prohibitively expensive, often costing equal to a physical DVD, and in some cases more. In comparison, Netflix is offering streaming at no extra charge to members who are already on a high enough DVD tariff, and in the longer term is protecting the subscription model which it helped pioneer.