The NPD Group on Tuesday released market share data for digital video streaming in the U.S. Not surprisingly, Netflix continues to dominate the market with its Watch Instantly service. 61% of digital movies streamed in the U.S. are served by Netflix, and its closest competitor is Comcast, which sits at a distant second with 8%. Interestingly, Apple sits in a three-way tie for the No. 3 spot with just 4% of the market. Apple’s refreshed Apple TV was deemed by many to be a success last year, with sales having surpassed 1 million units this past December. Even when combined with iTunes movies streamed to computers, however, the Apple TV still hasn’t helped Apple make a dent in the digital video market. With new players like Amazon and Redbox entering the space and Netflix still going strong, Apple may have to be a bit more innovative if it hopes to make a dent in the market. Hit the break for the full press release. More →
Following recent reports that Microsoft will soon be killing off its Zune suite of entertainment services and replacing them with a new offering, All About Microsoft has uncovered what may end up being Microsoft’s Zune successor. The blog’s tipsters claim knowledge of a new set of services currently being developed by Microsoft’s Entertainment and Devices division. These services, codenamed “Ventura,” are said to be focused on media discovery and consumption — much like Zune. To help firm up the report, All About Microsoft also reveals a Microsoft job posting that references Ventura. “The Ventura Media Services team is looking for a highly motivated Software Development Engineer to help drive some great new service innovation,” the job description reads. It goes on to say, “In this position you will have the chance to help choose direction and drive innovation on some of the most cutting edge media services. Think large scale. Think Azure. Being a web and services group, our goal is to release early and often while maintaining high quality.” More →
The Warner Bros. blockbuster The Dark Knight has become the first title to be made available for rental on Facebook, giving us our first glimpse of what ultimately could be a truly disruptive home entertainment product. Executives at Netflix, Hulu, Redbox and other similar services were no doubt squirming in their seats on Tuesday morning following the announcement that users can now use Facebook credits to rent The Dark Knight for $3. One rented, the movie can be streamed directly from the movie’s Facebook fan page for 48 hours. “Facebook has become a daily destination for hundreds of millions of people,” said Thomas Gewecke, President of Warner Bros. Digital Distribution, in a statement. “Making our films available through Facebook is a natural extension of our digital distribution efforts. It gives consumers a simple, convenient way to access and enjoy our films through the world’s largest social network.” Warner Bros. said it also plans to make digital movies available for purchase via Facebook. Hit the break for Warner Bros.’ full press release. More →
Netflix on Tuesday announced a new deal with CBS that will bring shows from the CBS library to Netflix’s portfolio of streaming content. The news comes on the same day Amazon finally debuted its new streaming video service for Amazon Prime members. Netflix and CBS did not disclose the terms of the deal, saying only that it will bring CBS content to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly” service for the next two years. CBS also has an option to extend the deal for another two years. Content covered by this new deal includes episodes of new shows such as Medium and Flashpoint, as well as full seasons of shows like Frasier and Cheers. “We are thrilled to be bringing CBS shows to Netflix and are looking forward to growing our relationship over time,” Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “Netflix is now the only online premium subscription service with shows featured on all four broadcast networks and dozens of cable TV’s biggest brands.” Hit the break for the full press release from Netflix. More →
In a meeting with analysts, Redbox President Mitch Lowe reaffirmed the Coinstar-owned company’s plans to launch a Netflix “Watch Instantly” competitor this year. Coinstar CEO Paul Davis first confirmed the forthcoming service last year during an earnings call, though he would not specify whether the company’s Internet streaming service would utilize an all-you-can-eat pricing model or and a la carte model. Lowe has now confirmed that the service will be subscription-based, but he did not indicate price points for the service. Redbox currently owns and operates a large network of unmanned DVD rental kiosks located throughout the country. These self-service kiosks, which are stocked with new releases and popular recent titles, allow customers to rent DVDs for as little as $1. Redbox still has not revealed a partner for its upcoming streaming service, though rumors suggest Amazon may be the most likely candidate. More →
According to an unconfirmed report in The Seattle Times, Microsoft is preparing to demonstrate a new home entertainment product set to combat Apple TV and Google TV. The rumored service will supposedly be demonstrated this week at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Said to be powered by a “stripped-down version of Windows tailored for set-top boxes and connected TVs,” a customized version of Windows Embedded is the likely candidate for this type of product. The devices are also said to feature a UI similar to the Windows Media Center interface, and will include a “polished and familiar TV-program guide that makes it easy to blend and navigate both online and broadcast content.” While no manufacturing partners were revealed in the report, an initial round of Windows TV boxes will apparently go on sale later this year for around $200. More →
As Netflix continues to barrel into living rooms across the country, the thriving company announced new agreements Tuesday that will enable one-click access to its streaming video services on compatible partner devices. The new deal will place a dedicated Netflix button, complete with the Netflix logo, on remote controls that ship with various consumer electronics including Watch Instantly-enabled televisions, Blu-ray players and set top boxes. Manufacturers on board include Panasonic, Samsung, Sharp, Sony, Toshiba, Dynex (Best Buy’s in-house brand), Haier, Memorex, Boxee, Iomega and Roku. The deal is big news for Netflix, and it stands to substantially increase brand visibility. Netflix claims that there are currently more than 250 devices on the market compatible with its streaming video service. Hit the break for Netflix’s full press release. More →
Netflix announced a new deal Wednesday that will bring additional content from ABC, ABC Family and the Disney Channel to the company’s online streaming catalog. “Watch Instantly” allows Netflix’s DVDs-by-mail subscribers to stream an unlimited amount of television and movie content to computers and compatible set-top boxes, and now the service is also available as a stand-alone offering for $7.99 per month. New shows that will now be available on Watch Instantly 15 days after their initial air date include “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Desperate Housewives” and “Brothers & Sisters.” The deal also brings complete seasons of popular shows like “Lost,” “Ugly Betty” and “Scrubs” to Watch Instantly.
“TV content streamed from Netflix has proven to be immensely popular with our members,” Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos said in a statement. “Adding to our existing Disney-ABC lineup with great network and cable shows, and opening up ABC Family for the first time, are important steps in creating a wide and diverse selection of content Netflix members of all ages can watch.”
The move with Disney-ABC is the latest in a series of deals Netflix has put together in an effort to bolster the new content available in its streaming catalog. Hit the break for the full press release. More →
According to an unconfirmed report in The Wall Street Journal Monday, Amazon.com is in the early stages of developing a subscription streaming service that will compete with Netflix’s “Watch Instantly.” Citing anonymous sources, WSJ reports that the service will look to undercut Netflix’s offering, though no other points of differentiation were mentioned.
Amazon.com Inc. is developing a Netflix-like subscription service that would offer TV shows and movies, according to people familiar with the matter. That service would be included as a bundle with its Amazon Prime shipping service, which costs $79 a year, those people said.
Amazon Prime gives members free two-day shipping on all Amazon.com orders. It also offers overnight shipping for $3.99 per item. Lumping in streaming movies and TV shows for free with this unrelated service would be a peculiar move at best, though it would mirror Netflix’s original strategy, in a way. Though the company recently launched a streaming-only plan for $7.99 per month, Netflix first introduced Watch Instantly as a free add-on for its DVDs-by-mail service. At $79 per year, Amazon.com’s service would be $17 less expensive per year than Netflix’s least expensive streaming package. More →
Netflix announced a new deal Wednesday that will bring much needed additional first-run theatrical films to its streaming video service in 2011. Netflix has inked several deals over the past year that will help address the number one complaint surrounding its popular Watch Instantly service — there aren’t enough new movies — and now the company adds one more. Beginning next year, FilmDistrict will license movies to Netflix during the “pay TV window,” or the period of time when the films would have normally appeared on premium cable TV channels. The first two movies to hit Watch Instantly as a result of the new deal will be Drive, starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan, and Lockout, starring Guy Pearce and Maggie Grace. Both films are set to be released early next year. More →
According to a new report from Reuters, Microsoft recently held meetings with several networks to discuss licensing television content for a new Web-based subscription TV service. According to the unconfirmed report, the new service would provide streaming television content to owners of Microsoft’s Xbox 360 console, among other devices. Microsoft looks to be intrigued by Apple’s success with the recently redesigned Apple TV, which has been very successful in recent months. Apple was reportedly trying to bring networks on board with a subscription service ahead of its revamped Apple TV launch, but those talks were unsuccessful. Microsoft seems to think it has something to bring to the table that Apple doesn’t, and with almost 46 million Xbox 360 consoles currently in the hands of consumers, we think Microsoft is probably right. More →
Sling Media’s popular placeshifting app is now available on the Apple iPad. The company first announced the eventual arrival of its iPad offering back in March of this year, and the task was apparently a steep one. Almost eight months later, however, SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad is finally here. Owners of Apple’s iPad can now stream live television and movies from their homes to the iPad over Wi-Fi or 3G. Content recorded on a TiVo or DVR can be streamed as well, and SlingPlayer is capable of remotely controlling a wide variety of cable and satellite boxes. The sizable 9.7-inch display on the iPad makes it a perfect candidate for the app, and early reports from users are definitely complimentary. SlingPlayer Mobile for iPad is available immediately in Apple’s App Store for $29.99.
Hulu Plus, a premium Web-based video streaming service, is now available to the public. Rob Wong, product director for Hulu Plus, made the announcement Thursday on the company’s blog, saying the service is now available without need for an invitation. Hulu provides a service that allows users to stream movies and TV episodes for free to computers. Hulu Plus, which costs $9.99 each month (for the time being, at least), offers enhancements such as additional content and the ability to stream to more devices like Apple’s iPhone and the Sony PlayStation 3. Rumors suggest interest in Hulu Plus has been minimal though, thanks to widely available free content as well as subscription competition like Netflix’s Watch Instantly. Hulu claims to have had a successful closed beta period, however, and it will continue to expand the service to more devices during the current open preview period.