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.
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 →
Netflix on Monday announced that it will abandon its plan to spin off the company’s DVD rentals-by-mail service. The home entertainment giant announced last month that it would break off its DVDs-by-mail service into a separate company called “Qwikster,” allowing it to focus on the Web-based content that represented the future of its business. “It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs,” Netflix CEO Reed Hastings wrote on the company’s blog. “This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster.” Shares of Netflix stock jumped more than 11% in pre-market trading on the news. Netflix lost more than 30% of its market value since the company first announced its Qwikster spin-off. More →
Microsoft on Wednesday announced a number of new content partners that will deliver movies, television shows and other content to its popular Xbox 360 video game and home entertainment console. New partners include Bravo, Comcast, HBO GO, Verizon FiOS, BBC and Syfy, and the content will be available in the U.S. and a number of additional countries. “Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” reads a statement from Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.” Microsoft’s Xbox is quickly expanding beyond the gaming genre that made it popular, into new areas that could make it a go-to home entertainment hub for entire families rather than just gamers. Microsoft’s full press release follows below. More →
Dish Network on Friday announced the upcoming availability of Blockbuster Movie Pass, an unlimited video streaming service akin to Netflix’s “Watch Instantly.” Beginning October 1st, Dish subscribers will have unlimited access to a small library of digital content that they can stream to a PC or to a TV using a standard Dish set-top box. While Netflix is moving in a completely different direction, having just spun off its DVD rental service to focus on streaming, Dish is sticking with the multi-pronged approach as Blockbuster’s best bet. “We’ve created a package that combines the best assets of the movie entertainment and video gaming industries with the convenience and integration provided by a multichannel video provider,” said Blockbuster president Michael Kelly in a statement. “Blockbuster Movie Pass is the ultimate programming package for every movie buff. The combination of DVDs by mail and unlimited in-store exchanges provides more than 100 million people living near Blockbuster stores, which are open 7 days a week, immediate satisfaction and unmatched choice.” Dish’s full press release follows below. More →
Former home entertainment heavyweight Blockbuster is preparing to unveil a new streaming media service later today that will aim to take a bite out of Netflix’s future. While the company has made no official announcements at this point, invitations to a 1:00 p.m. Eastern press conference refer to a new service that is a “stream come true.” This is not the first time Blockbuster has chased Netflix in an effort to save its faltering business. The company introduced its “Total Access” service years ago — a spitting image of the DVD rentals-by-mail service that made Netflix the giant it is today — but the lack of a compelling argument and a string of terrible policy changes takes us to where we are today: Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy and was subsequently bought at auction by Dish Network. The firm’s Total Access service remains operational, though Netflix is doing everything it can to bury its DVD service, and now Blockbuster will take the next step in its attempted comeback.
On Wednesday, Walmart subsidiary VUDU launched a new iPad-accessible web app that allows iPad users to stream more than 20,000 movies and television shows directly from the Web. iPad owners don’t have to use iTunes and simply need to navigate to http://VUDU.com for access to rentals and purchases. “VUDU’s launch on the iPad plays into that vision as we’re committed to offering the VUDU experience on as many devices as possible so customers can shop for and access their favorite movies and TV shows however they want, whenever they want,” general manager of VUDU Edward Lichty said. Customers can add a VUDU web app to their home screen by clicking the “Add to Home Screen” button once they have accessed the website. Read on for the full press release. More →
Apple’s upcoming “iTunes Replay” service is indeed in the works, but the company has yet to sign “cloud agreements” with at least four of the top-six film studios in Hollywood that are necessary in order to launch the service, CNET News reports. As such, the site calls earlier reports that suggested an imminent launch premature. Apple is reportedly working on a service that will allow iTunes users to stream and re-download movies purchased through iTunes. Such a service would require Apple to sign new licensing agreements with motion picture studios in order to secure the appropriate rights that would allow Apple to serve content from the cloud and to multiple devices. According to CNET News, negotiations for these rights could “drag on for months.” The report also mentions a possible hurdle for Apple: HBO. HBO has agreements in place that grant it exclusive digital distribution rights to new movies from three of the six major film studios — 20th Century Fox, Universal and Warner Bros. — for a certain period of time. HBO’s deals have caused problems for streaming services in the past, and it looks like Apple could be the latest victim. More →
Amazon’s manufacturing partner is expected to ship as many as 3 million tablets for the online retail giant this quarter, Taiwan Economic News reports. BGR exclusively reported this past May that Amazon is currently prepping two tablets for launch, a low-end dual-core “Coyote” and a high-end quad-core “Hollywood.” The former is expected to hit the market first and Amazon is preparing to make quite a splash, as it reportedly has ordered between 800,000 and 1 million units each month this quarter from manufacturing partner Quanta Computer. The new order estimates are up from the 700,000 – 800,000 units reported in May by DigiTimes. Foxconn is said to have landed the contract to manufacture Amazon’s high-end 10.1-inch “Hollywood” tablet, which is expected to start shipping next year. More →
Apple is preparing to launch a new service that will allow iTunes users to re-download previously purchased music, movies and TV shows for free, AppAdvice reports. The service may also support some streaming functionality according to the report, though such functionality may be limited. In the past, iTunes users who lose content from their libraries were forced to either purchase the content again or essentially beg and plead with Apple customer service until they agreed to assist with free content restoration. This ridiculous practice is now in the process of coming to an end. AppAdvice claims to have confirmed the imminent launch of the iTunes Reply service with multiple sources, and such an offering has rumored to have been in the works from Apple for quite some time. According to the report, we can expect iTunes Replay to “go public in the coming weeks.” More →
Apple issued an update to its Apple TV product on Monday that will allow users to stream purchased high-definition TV shows directly from iTunes. Specifically, Apple says the update will enable:
- iTunes TV Shows: Purchase your favorite TV shows directly from the iTunes Store, and watch the shows you already own, commercial-free in HD.
- Vimeo: Browse and play videos from Vimeo, access your video inbox, and mark videos you want to watch later.
When Apple first launched the Apple TV, it only allowed users to rent movies and shows and there was not an option to purchase titles for permanent ownership. For users in the U.S., Apple has also rolled out preliminary iCloud support with this update, allowing users to re-download some purchased television shows, though movie support is not yet available. More →
Dish Network on Thursday revealed plans to shutter 200 additional Blockbuster stores, dropping the number of nationwide locations to approximately 1,500. Dish won an auction to take control of Blockbuster and its remaining assets this past April, after the fallen giant filed for bankruptcy last September. Dish said that the 15,000 employees working in Blockbuster locations that will remain operational will not lose their jobs. The company also said employees of the locations set to be shuttered will have the opportunity to transfer to other stores. Blockbuster failed to evolve with the shifting movie rental industry — when it finally did begin to offer new portfolio options to compete with the likes of Netflix, it neglected to add any real value or differentiation beyond competitive offerings. Coupled with the expense of operating physical rental shops, Blockbuster didn’t stand a chance. Dish Network acquired Blockbuster’s in April for approximately $228 million in cash, and it remains to be seen whether or not Dish can manage to transform the current business into something worthwhile. More →
Research In Motion is currently working on a media box codenamed “BlackBerry Cyclone” that will launch later this fall, BlackBerry news site NerdBerry.net reports. The rumored media hub is said to be similar to Apple’s iOS-based Apple TV box, which connects to a television and plays streaming video content from iTunes. The BlackBerry Cyclone’s purported capabilities include Netflix streaming, YouTube streaming and streaming from media devices connected to the same Wi-Fi network. The unit will also reportedly feature an HDMI-out port. The move would be a peculiar one from RIM, as it does not have an iTunes competitor to speak of and even with the extremely popular multimedia market, the Apple TV has not been an overly successful device for Apple. The Cupertino-based company announced the million-unit milestone for its refreshed Apple TV late last year, but we haven’t heard much about it since that time. RIM is also in the midst of prepping its first QNX-powered smartphone for release in 2012, not to mention seven BlackBerry handsets due to launch later this year, so we would hope the bulk of its attention is focused on these infinitely more important products. More →