They've already gotten VOD. Presumably, this new offering would use commercials and advertisements as an income source rather than having people pay for downloads.
Blockbuster used to be the dominant force in video-rentals back when VHS was the rage and they negotiated a "rental window" with the studios so that movies and TV shows couldn't be sold to the public until they were rented first. The invention of DVD's ruined that for them. Now, they're struggling to stay alive in light of competitors like NetFlix.
Unless Blockbuster changes their business model (with more original ideas than "copy Hulu"), it could be just another recession victim.
I often praise Matt and Trey and believe that under their guidance they produce one of the most witty, insightful and subversive shows on television. The fact that they had the foresight to retain non-television rights to their show in an era when television is becoming less important as a medium in our daily lives is outright brilliant.
As we all know, and are probably tired of hearing because it makes us so damned depressed, the recession is hitting everyone hard. Businesses are closing left and right, people are losing their jobs, and unemployment rates are hitting levels not seen since the days of leg warmers, headbands and tainted Tylenol. It's bad enough that even if people still have a job, their employers are taking extensive belt tightening measures to make sure they are prepared for the worst.
One of the things being eliminated from families' budgets during this belt tightening is their cable or satellite hookup. With costs that can total over $100 a month, families are just not ready to dump that kind of cash on something they feel doesn't have any value. That doesn't mean they are going without television (especially after the DTV switchover) and turning to a simpler life of canning vegetables, making quilts, and attending square dances. Rather, they are switching off their hi-def flat screens, turning on their computer flat screens, and getting their TV fix over the Internet.
This is yet another step in guaranteeing that nobody will use the cable companies to watch movies anymore. No wonder HBO, etc. have long since gotten into the business of original content.
I'm not sure how successful this formula will be, considering there is still a monthly service fee involved with the use of Netflix. Perhaps they could change their pricing model for the purchase of one of these LG televisions. I'd have issue with paying for cable, Internet and monthly movie rentals particularly when so many televisions can now be directly hooked up to a computer.
I'd like to think that this is the beginning of the all-in-one television, which along with being flat and pretty light will have built-in wi-fi, a PVR including Blu-Ray (or whatever the future generation recording technology is) and an ice cream maker.
When I'm not pumping out my latest TV rant for the ol' Squad here, I write pretty infrequently for another blog with some old college roomies called The Suite Spot. It's really nothing more than a bunch of disgruntled twentysomething males talking about whatever we want.
Anyway, a few weeks ago, my buddy Keith wrote something that astounded me: he's canceled his cable TV service. And not just cable - I mean everything. Basic service too. The man is TV-less.
Wha?!? Just how the heck can a red-blooded American male say no more to cable TV? Good-bye ESPN? So long crappy late night soft-core porn? Farewell Desperate Hou... wait, nevermind. That one sounds great, but you get my point.
Is Keith still watching TV? Sure, tons of it. But he's doing something that many of us only use as a supplement to our normal TV viewing. He's watching everything online.
1. Netflix Watch Instantly
I've had Netflix basically since its inception, but with all of the TV that I watch, my Netflix movies have had a bad habit of collecting dust for months (I finally sent No Country for Old Men back after about six months on top of my DVD player). Even though I've known about the Watch Instantly feature for a while, I've never actually tried it out. I just watched Friday Night Lights Season 2, and let me tell you. it's so nice to just hit "Next" and have all of the episodes right there without having to change disks. Does that make me ridiculously lazy? Probably. I don't care.
No one's watching Terminator, the Dollhouse problems persist, and too many of my favorite shows are on hiatus until next year. Grrr! Argh! Still, I love TV, and now's the time to look on the bright side and give thanks for all the good stuff I've watched this season.
This year, I'm thankful for:
Battlestar Galactica – This last season has been challenging but thrilling to watch. Actually, that about sums up the entire run of the series. I'm confident that the final eps will be as good as what came before.
Netfilx Watch Instantly for Mac – I'm catching up with Doctor Who, Dead Like Me, and revisiting old eps of Joy Mohr's Action. I've never been so happy to be a beta tester.
Netflix currently lets users stream selected content using a web browser or a dedicated set top box developed by Roku. You won't need to pay any additional fees to watch Netflix videos. But you will need a Netflix subscription. Microsoft says the Xbox 360 will be the only video game console to support Netflix videos, but I wouldn't be surprised if what Microsoft is really saying is that the Xbox 360 will be the first video game console with Netflix support.
Microsoft has also announced that customers will be able to purchase and download videos from NBC and Universal. Titles will include Battlestar Galactica, The Office, Monk, The Mummy, and the Bourne Supremacy. The videos will be available in high definition. Microsoft says there are now over 10,000 movies and TV shows available through the Xbox Live marketplace.
MythTV News raises an interesting question: Could the Netflix Player be a cheap frontend for the Linux-based MythTV media suite? MythTV's backend software requires a full computer with a decent CPU, hard drive, and RAM to run. But it might be possibel to shoehorn the frontend software, which lets you access media stored on the backend, onto a less powerful device.
As Dave Zatz points out, the software used on the Netflix Player is signed. What that means is that modified code will not run properly, and the box should automatically revert to the last good version of its software if it encounters hacked or modified code. But it is at least theoretically possible to send software updates to the box, and to update the bootloader. And that means it's possible that someone might be able to find a way to run MythTV or other software on the Netflix Player. Just because a platform is locked doesn't mean it can't be unlocked. Just look at the iPhone.
[via eHomeUpgrade and Hack A Day]
vmcNetflix already include features that other Windows Media Center Netflix plugins lack, such as support for media extenders like the Xbox 360. It'll be interesting to see what other features a community of developers can add.
You can download the latest version of vmcNetflix and check out the source code at its new home page.
[via Ian Dixon]
Netflix has announced the a new set top box that will let you watch any video that you can stream from the web site. The Netflix Player by Roku is a $100 box, plus your Netflix subscription fee. You don't have to pay anything extra to user the player.
Remember yesterday when we mentioned that Netflix had hired Anthony Park, the developer of the MyNetflix plugin for Windows Media Center? Park said he'd be working on the user experience for boxes, and I'd assumed he meant boxes like video game consoles and other existing set top boxes. And maybe he did. Netflix is also partnering with LG and other hardware makers to release more Netflix-compatible boxes soon.
But the Netflix Player by Roku is the company's first foray into hardware. And by keeping the price extraordinarily low, the box looks pretty attractive compared to competing boxes like the Apple TV or SlingCatcher)
That said, CNET reports that the video quality and user interface aren't exactly up to Apple TV or Vudu standards. The box doesn't really need a great interface because all it lets you do is watch movies and TV shows that are already in your Netflix queue.
Netflix has hired Anthony Park. Now, normally I wouldn't bother writing a post to let you know that a media company has gone and hired a developer. But Anthony Park happens to be the guy who created MyNetflix, one of the first Windows Media Center plugins that allowed you to stream videos from the Netflix web site on your TV using Windows Vista MCE.
Park says he'll be working on a research team "to build the next generation of the Netflix user experience." What that means is he'll be helping develop the user interface for accessing the Netflix service on a variety of different devices. If Netflix develops software for the Nintendo Wii, Xbox 360, or AppleTV, Park could be involved in developing the GUI.
Park says he also plans to continue developing MyNetflix on his own time.
[via Ian Dixon]
Ever since it was first demonstrated that you could control the Netflix "watch now" interface from Windows Media Center, MCE plugins for Netflix have been populating like bunnies. There are now three different plugins that let you browse or search your Netflix queue and watch movies all from the comfort of your couch.
Missing Remote has an in-depth look at vmcNetflix, MyNetflix, and NetflixMC. And it turns out that not all Netflix plugins are not created equal. Some are Vista only, while others will run on Windows XP Media Center Edition. Al three have attractive interfaces and most of the features that you'd expect. But only one vmcNetflix supports Windows Media Center Extenders like the Xbox 360.
If you're looking for Windows XP MCE support, NetflixMC is pretty much your only option for now. And if you're looking for support for media extenders, vmcNetflix is the way to go. But if you're looking for a more detailed overview, you should check out the full article at Missing Remote.
It's not clear at this point whether media extender support will be included in a future release, because it's possible that the solution he came up with only works on his particular system and it's not clear if it can be automated.
For anyone who got lost in the first paragraph, a media center extender is a set top box that connects to your main Windows Media Center computer over a home network. So if you have one PC that you use to record and store TV, you can place extenders in other rooms in the house that will let you watch recorded TV shows and other content. In other words, some people don't have a PC in their living room, they just have an extender box, which is why it's pretty significant that someone figured out a way to stream Netflix videos over one.