Online retail giant Amazon is said to be stretching the truth regarding the size of its streaming content library when reporting numbers to the public. According to a report from Fast Company, the “17,000 movies and television shows” Amazon claims to offer Amazon Prime customers is inflated by roughly 10 times. Amazon Prime members have free, unlimited access to Amazon’s streaming content catalog, which can be viewed using a number of devices including a Roku set-top box and Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablet. Rather than counting a TV series toward the total content tally Amazon claims its users have access to, Amazon counts each individual episode of a TV show toward that 17,000-title total. So, for example, Fox’s “24″ counts not once but 192 times, and various versions of the “Power Rangers” show add 715 shows to Amazon’s catalog. The actual size of Amazon’s library? 1,745 movies and 150 television series. Netflix, which has been said to have a catalog of 60,000 streaming titles, actually has approximately 13,000 different titles including 9,500 movies and 3,500 TV series, the report claims.
Netflix in 2006 held an open competition to find the collaborative filtering algorithm that would best predict whether or not a user would like a particular film or TV show based on previous ratings. The grand prize of $1 million was awarded to a team called “BellKor’s Pragmatic Chaos” in 2009. The team’s algorithm was found to be 10% more effect than Netflix’s own recommendation service, however the company never implemented the team’s solution into its own service. “We evaluated some of the new methods offline but the additional accuracy gains that we measured did not seem to justify the engineering effort needed to bring them into a production environment,” Netflix finally explained in a recent blog post. “Also, our focus on improving Netflix personalization had shifted to the next level by then.” The company said because the majority its users were streaming videos rather than renting DVDs, it wasn’t logical to integrate the algorithm into its recommendation service, which is different for its streaming service and DVD rental program. More →
More than 1 million cable television subscribers in the United States canceled their service in 2011, opting instead for online films and TV shows available through services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. Nearly 2.65 million cable or satellite TV subscribers have canceled their service since 2008 to rely solely on Web-based services according to estimates from the Convergence Consulting Group. “It’s pretty obvious that there’s actual cord-cutting going on in the U.S.,” Brahm Eiley, president of Convergence Consulting, said in an interview with Bloomberg. The firm warns that the pace of defections may slow this year, however, as content providers tighten online access to shows and increase prices. It is estimated that roughly 930,000 customers will cut the cord in 2012, for a total of 3.58 million subscribers since 2008. The group also estimates that traditional television providers will add 185,000 accounts this year, up from 112,000 in 2011. More →
Cable network operator and Internet service provider Comcast reportedly confirmed earlier this week that it would give its own video streaming service a huge advantage over rival services like Netflix. Showing blatant disregard for net neutrality principles, Comcast said this week that its video streaming service Xfinity will be exempt from the 250GB bandwidth cap it foists on subscribers, Raw Story reports. Movies and TV shows streamed using rival services such as Netflix and Hulu will still apply toward users’ monthly bandwidth caps. Microsoft announced earlier this week that Comcast’s Xfinity service was launching on its popular Xbox 360 video game and home entertainment console, and heavy users on Comcast’s network now have a clear reason to choose Xfinity over any of the dozens of rival streaming services supported by the Xbox. More →
Online movie streaming in the United States is expected to top both DVD and Blu-ray use for the first time ever in 2012, according to a study from IHS Screen Digest. The study suggests that in 2012, Americans will legally stream 3.4 billion movies online — twice the 1.4 billion streamed in 2011 — while DVD and Blu-ray movies watching this year will to 2.4 billion from 2.6 billion in 2011. Last year, the unlimited-streaming services offered by Netflix and Amazon Prime accounted for 94% of all paid online movie viewing in the U.S. Additionally, consumers paid an average of $0.51 for every movie streamed online, compared to $4.72 for DVD and Blu-ray discs. “We are looking at the beginning of the end of the age of movies on physical media like DVD and Blu-ray,” IHS analyst Dan Cryan said. “But the transition is likely to take time: almost nine years after the launch of the iTunes Store, CDs are still a vital part of the music business.” More →
On Tuesday, a report surfaced claiming Netflix was in talks with some of the largest cable companies in the U.S. to discuss integrating the company’s streaming product into cable services. The report stated that at least one cable provider was considering the launch of a trial run before the end of the year. Comcast, however, will not be that company, FierceCable reported. “We have no plans to offer access to Netflix to our customers through our Xfinity TV service, no matter what device,” Comcast spokeswoman Alana Davis said. The cable company recently launched “Streampix,” a subscription video service that competes with Netflix, allowing Xfinity subscribers to access TV series and movies from PCs and mobile devices. More →
Netflix on Wednesday announced that users can now sign up for the service directly through Apple TV, and pay for it with their iTunes account. The company also announced that it will be offering 1080p HD streaming to Apple’s new set-top box. Apple unveiled its new Apple TV unit during the company’s press conference in San Francisco. Along with 1080p support, the new set-top box features a brand new user interface with support for Genius recommendations, Photo Stream and iTunes Match. Netflix’s new sign up and payment features will be available to customers in the United States, Canada, Latin America, the United Kingdom and Ireland. More →
Netflix’s chief executive Reed Hastings has been meeting with some of the largest cable companies in the U.S. to discuss integrating the company’s streaming product into cable services, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The site’s source said that at least one cable provider may experiment and offer the streaming service before the end of the year. If a partnership were to come from these talks, cable operators could offer Netflix as an additional on-demand option that would be added onto a subscriber’s monthly cable bill. The cable industry originally viewed Netflix as a threat to its $100 billion-a-year business, fearing users would abandon more expensive packages in favor of cheap online streaming services. Having Netflix as an added option could be appealing to many cable companies in an effort to retain “cord cutting” customers. “It’s not in the short term, but it’s in the natural direction for us in the long term,” said Hastings during an investor conference last week. “Many [cable service providers] would like to have a competitor to HBO, and they would bid us off of HBO.” More →
Netflix on Thursday revealed that it has no plans to bring its streaming service to Research In Motion’s mobile platforms. With the release of the Playbook 2.0 update, it was not immediately clear whether the company would port its existing Android app to the platform or perhaps create a native app for RIM’s tablet OS, however neither will be the case. ”We don’t have any current plans to support BlackBerry devices, including PlayBook,” the company confirmed on Twitter. Netflix has more than 24 million U.S. subscribers and it recently expanded its streaming-only service to make it available in Canada and parts of Latin America. Read on for a screen capture of Netflix’s confirmation. More →
The debut season of Netflix’s first original series “Lilyhammer” is now available on demand to all Netflix “Watch Instantly” subscribers. All eight episodes of the series’ first season can be streamed beginning Tuesday, and the show is available in high definition. Lilyhammer is the first in a string of original content Netflix is working on in an effort to create an all-inclusive online-only network that will truly pose a real threat to traditional pay TV networks. The show features Steven Van Zandt of “The Sopranos” fame, who stars as a relocated New York City gangster trying to make a new life for himself in a small town in Norway. Netflix is working on more original content that will launch this year, including a new season of “Arrested Development” and “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey. More →
Verizon and Redbox-owner Coinstar on Monday announced a new joint venture in which the two companies will offer a new streaming video service. The joint venture was originally called “Project Zoetrope” and initial details began to surface in December of last year. It’s still unclear what the joint venture will be called or what exactly each company’s role will be, however Verizon said that the companies will begin to offer a “video on demand streaming and download service” that will no doubt compete directly with services such as Netflix and Vudu. Verizon’s press release follows below. More →
Netflix on Wednesday announced its earnings for the fourth quarter of 2011. The company noted $876 million in revenue, up 47% from the same quarter last year, and earnings per share of $0.73. Analysts had pegged the company to report revenue in the ballpark of $857.4 million and EPS of $0.54, Barron’s relayed. Netflix also said it added 220,000 new subscribers, a far cry from the 800,000 it lost during the third quarter, and now serves 21.67 million streaming customers in the United States. The company has 24.4 million U.S. customers signed up for DVD subscriptions and that figure jumped by 610,000 during the quarter.
Netflix serves 1.9 million international streaming customers and added 380,000 new subs during the quarter. “We are encouraged by the strength in acquisition that we are seeing, coupled with continued improvements in retention among our domestic streaming members,” the company said in a statement. “For Q1 to date, our domestic net additions for streaming are tracking close to our net additions in Q1 2010 of 1.7 million net additions. Given this trend, we are comfortable with our ability to continue to expand our domestic streaming contribution margin.”
Investors who were upset by Netflix’s poor decision making in 2011 have filed a class-action lawsuit against the company in a U.S. District Court in Northern California. ”At the beginning of the class period, Netflix was facing increasing competition for streaming business, and content providers were exploring new ways to distribute their content and/or maximize their licensing fees,” the lawsuit reads. “Rather than fully disclose the devastating cost increases which were then threatening Netflix’s entire business, the defendants talked about [the company's] ability to grow.” Netflix lost as many 800,000 customers during the third quarter of 2011 when it decided to raise its prices and spin off its DVD rental service into a new subsidiary called Qwikster. The spin-off decision was soon reversed but customers had already left in droves. According to paidContent, investors are also suing because several of Netflix’s executives sold stock before it tanked due to poor decision making. More →