BitTorrent inventor Bram Cohen took the stage at the San Francisco MusicTech Summit on Monday and gave onlookers a live demonstration of his new peer-to-peer live video streaming technology. Cohen’s new tech is potentially capable of streaming live video to millions of Internet-connected devices without the need for a central infrastructure, and he said the protocol could be used for video conferencing or even streaming sporting events. “My goal here is to kill off television,” Cohen joked to GigaOm at the summit, adding that he developed the new technology from scratch because earlier peer-to-peer technology introduces too much latency for live applications. Cohen said he is in discussions with several potential partners regarding implementations for the new technology, but there are currently no firm launch plans for products based on the new protocol. 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 →
Sling Media has been the go-to provider for video placeshifting solutions for nearly seven years now. The California-based company launched its first Slingbox in 2005, enabling users to watch live television exactly as it was being broadcast to their homes on any Internet-connected PC. The company rolled out its first SlingPlayer Mobile application the following year and it hasn’t looked back, continuing to expand its mobile offering to support a wide range of popular platforms and devices. Sling Media will launch the latest addition to its mobile app lineup on Tuesday when it releases SlingPlayer Mobile for Amazon’s popular tablet, and we spent much of our weekend enjoying placeshifted live television on our Kindle Fire to test the new app. Check out a small gallery of screenshots below and hit the break for our early impressions of SlingPlayer Mobile for the Amazon Kindle Fire.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.”
Netflix on Tuesday announced that its first original series, “Lilyhammer,” will begin streaming to subscribers on February 6th in the United States. Starring Steven Van Zandt of “The Sopranos,” the series follows the life of a New York City mobster who is relocated to Lillehammer, Norway upon entering the federal witness protection program. “I am very careful with my choices and this project was so exciting to me because of the wonderful writing, the rich characters and the fascinating culture of Norway,” said Steven Van Zandt, the show’s star and Executive Producer. “Netflix is the perfect home for such a unique show.” Lilyhammer is the first in a number of original series Netflix plans to offer its Watch Instantly subscribers. The company is also prepping an exclusive new season of “Arrested Development” and a new original series starring Kevin Spacey titled “House of Cards.” Netflix’s full press release follows below along with the Lilyhammer trailer. More →
Apple’s design boss Jonathan Ive is reportedly hard at work on two models of Apple’s upcoming “iTV,” a new report claimed on Wednesday. Earlier rumors suggested that Apple is preparing to launch 32 and 37-inch HDTVs this summer, but USA Today cites an anonymous former Apple employee in stating Apple is prepping a 42-inch model and a 50-inch model. The report also reaffirms a number of previously reported iTV features such as Siri-powered controls, iOS app support, AirPlay, iCloud support and deep iTunes integration. USA Today also notes that stalled negotiations with content providers within the TV industry are a “major roadblock” for Apple. A la carte availability of top-tier TV shows is said to be a key to the success of Apple’s HDTV, but Apple has reportedly been unable to secure the licensing agreements it would need to offer content using its desired distribution model. “I do expect Apple to make an attempt, since I expect the living room to remain a center for family entertainment, and that touches on all areas of consumer products that Apple is already making,” Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak told USA Today. More →
Apple iOS users have long been able to take advantage of the company’s wireless streaming feature, AirPlay, that is built into all iPads, iPhones, and iPod touch devices. Airtight is a new app that just arrived in the Android Market, and it gives Android users the same wireless streaming capacity. The app is available for Google TV boxes running at least Android 3.0, and will allow users to stream content from their iOS devices right to their televisions using AirPlay. While Airtight will allow users to stream photos and videos, full mirroring of a device and DRM-protected media is unsupported in the current version. Airtight’s developers plan to further expand the capabilities of the app and are looking to include music as well as the rest of AirPlay’s functionality in the future. Airtight is available immediately for $0.99 in the Android Market. More →
Rhapsody announced on Thursday that it now has more than 1 million paying subscribers in the United States. The company claims it is now the top pay-for music streaming company in the country, although we imagine Spotify is nipping at its heals now that it has more than 2.5 million subscribers globally. In celebration of the milestone, Rhapsody president Jon Irwin shaved his head, a promise he made to the company if it ever reached million subscribers. “We’ve accomplished quite a bit over the past decade, so it’s no small statement to say that 2011 was probably our biggest year yet,” Irwin said. It is quite a big achievement; one might have assumed Rhapsody’s user base would have declined with the influx of other pay-for music services such as Spotify, Slacker, Pandora, Rdio and others. “The next frontiers for subscription music are the living room and the car,” Irwin said. “Consumers will be able to enjoy Rhapsody from even more connected audio and video systems, as well as other platforms and distribution channels—at home, in the car and everywhere in-between, domestically and abroad.” Rhapsody’s full press release follows after the break.
Spotify announced on Wednesday that its BlackBerry client is now out of beta and officially available for download. Spotify is a free ad-supported desktop music service that allows its users to listen to any song they want, provided it has been licensed by Spotify. Users who want to take advantage of the service’s mobile features, which include offline caching and access to the full Spotify library, must pay a $10 monthly subscription fee. We’re fans of Spotify here at BGR so we highly recommend BlackBerry users give it a try. The download is free (remember, you’ll need a monthly plan to use it, though) and accessible from the BlackBerry App World now. The catch? You’ll need to own one of five BlackBerry models (BlackBerry Bold 9780, Bold 9700, Curve 9300, Bold 9000 or Curve 8520) in order to use the app, which means it looks like CDMA users are being left out in the cold for now.
Spotify on Friday unveiled Spotify Radio, a new service similar to Pandora that will roll out as an extension to the company’s desktop client. The service allows users to create artist-based stations that will stream an unlimited amount of music similar to the artist selected. Spotify Radio users can also skip an unlimited number of songs and save tracks as they play for on-demand listening later as well. The app and associated service are a welcome addition to Spotify, which has had very limited discovery features until now. The free Spotify Radio app is currently available as a preview and it is expected to land in Spotify’s app catalog within the next few days. Spotify has not indicated whether or not its new radio service will make its way to the company’s mobile apps. More →
On Wednesday we reported on a story that suggested Verizon may be planning to challenge Netflix by launching its own video streaming service. Now, it appears the communications giant is secretly working with RedBox, the popular $1.00 video rental kiosk company, on a streaming service that could launch next year. According to TechCrunch, the plan is currently called “Project Zoetrope” and it will allow users to subscribe, download and stream movies and television shows across a variety of platforms including Roku, web browsers, Xbox, Google TV, Android and iOS. Like competing services such as Vudu, both HD and SD resolutions will be available for rental. TechCrunch said pricing will be based on a monthly credit allotment. A user, for example, might buy 10 credits for $9.95 per month, which would allow him or her to stream a certain number of shows or movies. Apple, Amazon, Google, Netflix, Vudu and others are already members of the crowded digital movie rental space, so Verizon and RedBox will certainly face stiff competition if they’re looking to enter this market. More →
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam recently took the stage during a UBS conference in New York where he explained that Verizon once considered purchasing Hulu. McAdam did not comment on another rumor, which suggests that Verizon is working on building its own video streaming service that could compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon. Reuters first reported on the rumor and said the service could be deployed next year in areas where Verizon doesn’t offer its FiOS broadband and TV products. It is unclear what programming partners Verizon is speaking with, although Reuters suggested Epix or Viacom would be two content companies that might be interested. “If this deal comes true it’s not clear to me what Verizon would bring to the table that is materially different to what others like Amazon offer,” Bernstein Research analyst Carlos Kirjner told Reuters. McAdams did admit that, while Verizon may not be purchasing Hulu now, his company “[continues] to look at alternatives.” More →
Spotify’s New York City press conference just wrapped up and we spent some time checking out several of the popular music service’s new apps. There’s a new section on the left sidebar that lets you quickly access applications from LastFM, Rolling Stone, The Guardian and more. Rolling Stone and other publications will release playlists, some as frequently as each day, with bands the publications think Spotify users should take note of. The applications are seamless and are so tightly integrated with Spotify that they launch almost immediately. If you’re playing a song with tunewiki for example, simply tap the tunewiki application on the left sidebar and it immediately begins displaying song lyrics inside the software. We’re fans of Spotify here at BGR and we’re definitely looking forward to checking these features out a bit more when the app service officially goes live. Apps will be accessible to all users, whether they subscribe to Spotify’s premium services or not, and the beta should be made available today on Spotify’s website around 2:00 p.m. EST. Be sure to check out our full gallery below, and hit the break for a video from Spotify.More →