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Netflix confirms it killed AirPlay support, won’t let you beam shows to Apple TVs anymore
With no warning and little explanation, Netflix has removed the easiest way to sling its shows from one Apple device to another: AirPlay.

Netflix confirmed to The Verge that it pulled the wireless casting feature this past week, due to what it’s calling a “technical limitation.” But it’s not the kind of technical limitation you’d think.

You see, Apple recently partnered with most of the major TV brands to allow AirPlay 2 to send shows directly to their 2019 TV sets with a firmware update later this year, but a Netflix spokeperson tells me AirPlay 2 doesn’t have digital identifiers to let Netflix tell those TVs apart — and so the company can’t certify its users are getting the best Netflix experience when casting to those new sets.

So now, it’s throwing out the baby with the bathwater and pulling the plug on AirPlay, period. “We can’t distinguish which device is which, we can’t actually certify the devices... so we’ve had to just shut down support for it,” a Netflix spokesperson says.

To be clear, that means Apple TV set-top box users can no longer cast Netflix, either.
apple  software  technology  netflix 
14 days ago by jtyost2
A former Netflix executive says she was fired because she got pregnant. Now she’s suing.
A former Netflix executive says she was fired because her boss was angry that she was pregnant and planning to take maternity leave.

Tania Zarak, who helped develop international original content for the online streaming service, is suing the company for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation, according to the lawsuit she filed Tuesday in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

In her complaint, the 38-year-old filmmaker said she was shunned at work and secretly removed from projects after she told her boss, Francisco Ramos, in early November that she was pregnant.

Pregnancy discrimination is a form of gender discrimination that is illegal under federal law and California state law. As of press time, Netflix had not responded to Vox’s request for comment.

Zarak was helping produce several Spanish-language series, including a remake of a Mexican telenovela, and a series about a legendary female Mexican American singer. Though not named in the complaint, the latter is likely the highly anticipated Selena series that Netflix announced it was producing in December.

Zarak said she was named as one of the executives managing the Selena series, but that after she announced her pregnancy, Ramos stopped adding her to emails about the show and didn’t include her in any meetings. When she asked him what was going on, she says, he said he didn’t know she was on the show.

She also says Ramos made repeated demeaning comments about her appearance after the pregnancy announcement, such as “you don’t look happy” or “you look frustrated,” which she believed were intended to create an emotionally abusive and negative atmosphere.

After a month of this behavior, Zarak went to human resources and told them what was happening. She complained that Ramos was ignoring her and not giving her enough work because she was pregnant. She asked to change departments, but the manager told her to speak to Ramos about it.
Legal  discrimination  Netflix  ethics  business  gender  pregnancy  lawsuit 
16 days ago by jtyost2
Just discovered the most INSANE thing. The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix's new series Love Death & Robots changes based on whether Netflix thinks you're gay or straight.
Just discovered the most INSANE thing. The ORDER OF THE EPISODES for Netflix's new series Love Death & Robots changes based on whether Netflix thinks you're gay or straight.
netflix  algorithm  privacy  gender  datamining  machinelearning  software  technology  culture 
4 weeks ago by jtyost2
Netflix responds to Oscars and Steven Spielberg backlash
Netflix has defended itself against a backlash to its Oscars run after some filmmakers - including Steven Spielberg - have criticised its films being in the…
netflix  technology  movie  StevenSpielberg 
6 weeks ago by jtyost2
Netflix takes gamble with Epix film cull - BBC News
Thousands of movies will be removed from Netflix after the streaming service decided not to renew a deal with distributor Epix.
Removed titles will include the Hunger Games and Transformers movies.
Netflix, which has more than 60 million subscribers worldwide, said it wanted to focus on exclusive content.
Rival service Hulu will take on the Epix catalogue. "Our subscribers have been asking us for more, and more recent, big movies," Hulu said.
"We listened. Through this new deal with Epix, we are proud to now be able to offer a huge selection of the biggest blockbusters and premium films."
Netflix's deal with Epix - which was worth a reported $1bn - runs up until the end of September 2015, at which point the films will disappear from the service.
Explaining the move to subscribers, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos wrote: "While many of these movies are popular, they are also widely available on cable and other subscription platforms at the same time as they are on Netflix and subject to the same drawn out licensing periods."
He then went on to list a variety of exclusive shows coming up on the service, including new work from Ricky Gervais, Idris Elba and Adam Sandler.
He also praised an upcoming Netflix-made documentary about Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards.
netflix  business 
september 2015 by jtyost2
Netflix to Pull Plug on Final Data Center
Netflix Inc. said it plans to shut down the last of its data centers by the end of the summer, which will make it one of the first big companies to run all of its information technology remotely, in what’s known as the public cloud.

“For our streaming business, we have been 100% cloud-based for customer facing systems for some time now, and are planning to completely retire our data centers later this summer,” the company said in an email to CIO Journal.

Corporate use of the public cloud, in which users share the resources of a service provider, is rising. But many companies still run sensitive software in their data centers or in private clouds, in which a company has dedicated cloud resources from a third-party or within its own premises. Many companies weave all of these assets together in what is known as a hybrid arrangement. While some smaller companies and startups are known to rely entirely on the public cloud, few large corporations do.

“A 100% cloud operation is going to be extremely rare for big established companies,” said Glenn O’Donnell, vice president and research director at Forrester Research . Forrester Research says many large companies are moving toward operating in the cloud, but are unable to migrate completely. Mainstream banks and insurance companies, for instance, still often use on-premises mainframe computers for financial transactions, according to Mr. O’Donnell. Legacy systems and applications are the most difficult to move to the cloud, he added.
netflix  business  technology  software  cloudcomputing  server  datacenter 
august 2015 by jtyost2
9th Circuit rules Netflix isn’t subject to disability law
A federal appeals court ruled (PDF) yesterday that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn’t apply to Netflix, since the online video provider is “not connected to any actual, physical place.”

Donald Cullen sued Netflix in March 2011, attempting to kick off a class-action lawsuit on behalf of disabled people who didn’t have full use of the videos because they aren’t all captioned. A district court judge threw out his lawsuit in 2013, and yesterday’s ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholds that decision.

The decision is “unpublished,” meaning it isn’t intended to be used as precedent in other cases. However, it certainly doesn’t bode well for any plaintiff thinking about filing a similar case in the 9th Circuit, which covers most of the Western US.

At least one other court has come out the other way on this issue. Three months after Cullen filed suit, the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) filed an ADA lawsuit against Netflix in Massachusetts over the same issue. In that case, the judge found that Netflix was a “place of public accommodation” and would have to face the lawsuit against the disability rights group.

After the company lost the initial motion, Netflix settled the case with NAD, agreeing to pay $750,000 in legal fees and caption all of its videos by the year 2014.

While online captioning may be a done deal for Netflix, NAD has continued to litigate the matter. In February, the group sued Harvard and MIT over their free online course offerings, saying the lack of captions constitutes an ADA violation.

Despite significant wins by NAD and other disabled advocates, yesterday’s decision in Cullen v. Netflix shows that judges are far from unanimous in believing that the ADA can be wielded as a tool to regulate the Internet.
netflix  legal  disability  ADA  business 
april 2015 by jtyost2
BBC News - Netflix launches in Cuba as diplomatic relations thaw
Internet movie and television streaming service Netflix has launched in Cuba, as diplomatic relations between the US and Cuba continue to thaw.

Netflix said its content, such as series House of Cards and Orange is the New Black, will be available to anyone with international payment cards.

On 15 January, the US announced new rules that ease long-running sanctions against Cuba.

A trade embargo has been in place since 1962.

US credit card firms MasterCard and American Express have both said they will launch operations in Cuba soon.

Last month, Netflix said its international expansion was proceeding ahead of schedule.
cuba  netflix  diplomacy  technology 
february 2015 by jtyost2
Netflix Cracks Down on VPN and Proxy "Pirates" | TorrentFreak
Due to complicated licensing agreements Netflix is only available in a few dozen countries, all of which have a different content library.

Some people bypass these content and access restrictions by using VPNs or other circumvention tools that change their geographical location. This makes it easy for people all around the world to pay for access to the U.S. version of Netflix, for example.

The movie studios are not happy with these deviant subscribers as it hurts their licensing agreements. Previously entertainment industry sources in Australia complained bitterly that tens of thousands of Netflix “VPN-pirates” were hurting their business.

Over the past weeks Netflix has started to take action against people who use certain circumvention tools. The Android application started to force Google DNS which now makes it harder to use DNS based location unblockers, and several VPN IP-ranges were targeted as well.

Thus far the actions are limited in scope, so not all VPN users may experience problems just yet. However, TorGuard is one of the VPN providers which noticed a surge in access problems by its users, starting mid-December.
netflix  business  legal  copyright  piracy  vpn 
january 2015 by jtyost2
Netflix’s Marco Polo Is Opulent, Lifeless
I find the lazy objectification of women irritating, but Marco Polo’s real crime is how boring it is. God damn, this show is boring. There’s a level of detachment in all the characters that prevents any real connection or investment. What will happen to Marco? I … don’t care. Is Kublai sad about something? I don’t care. What about the mysterious princess (Zhu Zhu)? Will she and Marco fall in love? I don’t care. Somehow there’s no one to care about in this entire vast kingdom. At one point, Kublai is showing off some ladle-thingie he says is made out of an elephant’s testicles, and my mind wandered for a solid few minutes, imagining the whole origin of that tool. I forgot completely that I was supposed to be slogging through this show and instead found myself with a daydream kitchen full of scrotal-hewn tools. I’m more invested in the fate of that elephant than I am in the fates of these characters. The show is vacant and uninspiring, so much so that I’d rather fill my imaginary home with ball utensils than watch Marco Polo.
netflix  review  MarcoPolo 
december 2014 by jtyost2
During Netflix money fight, Cogent’s other big customers suffered too
When Netflix and its transit providers fought with cable companies and telcos over who should have to pay for network upgrades, it’s no secret that innocent bystanders were harmed. Companies that sent data over networks that were congested because of money disputes got poorer performance, despite having no direct role in the fight.

One new detail we learned today sheds some light on how customers were affected in that dark period earlier this year. The detail comes from Cogent, an IP transit provider whose paths into the networks of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Verizon, and AT&T were congested when the ISPs refused to upgrade network connections unless they were paid to do so.
netflix  isp  internet  netneutrality  comcast  business  AT&T  TimeWarnerCable  broadband 
november 2014 by jtyost2
Verizon Is Offering Netflix as a Test of a New Cable Bundle
If you can't beat 'em, form a mutually beneficial business arrangement with 'em.

With CBS, HBO and ESPN rolling out standalone subscription services, there's some thought that the traditional bundle model of programming and services offered by cable and broadband providers is dying — to be eventually replaced by the "a la carte" option in which people can pick and choose each service.

Not so fast.

Verizon FiOS has a new offer that shows how the bundle isn't dead yet, and that the changing media economy is set to create some uneasy alliances. Analysts at BTIG Research (free registration required) noticed over the weekend that Verizon was offering a year of Netflix as part of its "triple play" package for Internet, television and phone.

The deal is limited to New York residents and is just a test run, available for only 11 days.
netflix  business  verizon  technology  cable 
october 2014 by jtyost2
CHART OF THE DAY: Teens Download And Stream Their Movies - Business Insider
For a long time, the most common way to rent and purchase new movies was visiting physical stores like Blockbuster. But after Netflix came along with its DVD-by-mail service in the late '90s — and later, its popular subscription streaming service — companies started devising new ways to get people to rent and watch movies more easily. 

So how are young people, who witnessed the twilight of the Blockbuster Age (including the company's bankruptcy in 2010), renting and watching movies these days? According to data from research firm Piper Jaffray, which was charted for us by BI Intelligence, the vast majority of teenagers say they watch movies by downloading them and/or streaming them from services like Netflix and HBO GO (which will soon be available as a standalone platform). In fact, downloading and streaming movies is the only movie-watching method that's growing among teens; retail store visits are in heavy decline, and DVD-by-mail services are a rarity among that age group. Visits to kiosks like Redbox have remained static over the last two years, but it's still nowhere near as popular as downloading or streaming.
movie  statistics  netflix  business 
october 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix is making the sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon - Vox
Netflix announced yesterday that it's making an original movie.

The film, a sequel to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, will release next August on Netflix and in select IMAX theaters, reports the Wall Street Journal. The film is being produced by The Weinstein Company, but it is not being directed by Ang Lee, the two-time Academy Award winner who won his first Best Director Oscar for his work on the original Crouching Tiger.

What's most noteworthy about Netflix's move is that it's skipping the middleman of a theatrical release and going straight to home viewing, as Deadline notes. Certainly there are plenty of movies that do that, but they're usually low-budget films, and definitely not films with the earning-potential of a Crouching Tiger sequel.

That Netflix is a "disruptive force," as Deadline writes, is clear at this point. It's provided TV networks stiff competition with original series like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. But it has also provided those networks with an alternate revenue stream and a way for consumers to catch up on shows they maybe haven't seen in one go. Will it do something similar for the film industry? Only time will tell, but the site's ambitions are clearly sky-high.
october 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix is giving us four Adam Sandler movies we did not ask for - Vox
Of late, Netflix has positioned itself to produce riveting original shows in the form of House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black. And those shows are very different from what you get with Sandler. A person who talks about how much they love Frank Underwood or the stories unfolding at Litchfield prison probably isn't going to tell you how much they love Billy Madison in the same conversation.

But even though people say they don't like Adam Sandler movies and critics tell you not to go see them, they still make money. Grown Ups 2, a movie that critics say is more or less fresh hell, still raked in $133.7 million in 2012. You Don't Mess with the Zohan grossed $100 million in 2008, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry made $119 million, and 50 First Dates racked up over $120 million.

It's a bit like the Creed effect. Even though people loathed the quasi-Christian rock band publicly, the band has sold 26.1 million albums since 1997. That said, Sandler is not bullet-proof. He has screen-writing credits on the dismal Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star, which made $2.3 million at the box office, and the more likable Spanglish only made $42 million.

Netflix is betting on the Adam Sandler of the $100 million box office, not the Bucky Larson screenwriter. And they say that their audience, "Netflix members," tends to align more with the former.

"Netflix members", of course, is a strange, amorphous cross-section of humanity. The company hasn't made the viewership numbers of its hit shows public so we don't know exactly how many people are watching. Nor do we really know what Sandler's "views" counts as — like what if Drew Barrymore fans are the reason people are watching so many Adam Sandler movies?

And Netflix is a lot of things to different people. Some people like streaming when they're hungover and can't get out of bed. Some people enjoy it just before getting into bed. Others watch while they're inebriated and eating delicious pizza, and a few of us may be mooching Netflix off of family members, friends, significant others, or, you know, Adam Sandler fans.
AdamSandler  netflix  movie 
october 2014 by jtyost2
Comcast: Our Netflix competitor is too unpopular to survive on its own
Comcast said this week that creating a nationwide streaming service both inside and outside Comcast’s cable territory would be too difficult. Challenges include taking customers away from Netflix and other services, especially outside Comcast territory, and “the difficulty of obtaining national programming rights.”
comcast  business  netflix  internet  media 
september 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix Under Pressure to Close Down The VPN Loophole
Even worse, while a ban on the most common VPN services would definitely impact on the hundreds of thousands of legitimate users of those servers, it wouldn’t fix the problem (if it is a problem) of US content being streamed from Australia. Anyone that desperate enough to watch House of Cards could rent a Virtual Private Server in the US, spend ten minutes setting up free VPN software, and be back streaming in as long as it takes to pop another bag of corn.
vpn  netflix  internet  legal  business  copyright 
september 2014 by jtyost2
Comcast Burns Netflix Again by Snagging House of Cards | WIRED
House of Cards may have made Netflix’s name as a source of must-see original content, but millions of Comcast customers aren’t going to need Netflix to watch the show anymore.

In a deal with Sony, Comcast will now sell its subscribers access to the first season of the political drama through its own Xfinity Store, Variety reports. In Hollywood terms, the arrangement might not be anything remarkable — just a new way of syndicating reruns. But cutting Netflix out of the picture for its signature show sends a clear signal that the entertainment and cable industries aren’t about to let some Northern California tech company change television without exacting a price.

Thanks to the company’s aggressive marketing, House of Cards is known as a Netflix show just as much as The Sopranos was an HBO show. But even the $100 million it reportedly spent didn’t buy Netflix all the rights to Frank Underwood’s Machiavellian rise. Apparently, that money gave Netflix only the exclusive right to stream two seasons online first, and it didn’t even cover the total production costs of the first 26 episodes. The rest of the costs fell on Media Rights Capital, the independent studio that actually made House of Card, and it is free to sell other rights.
comcast  netflix  business  television 
september 2014 by jtyost2
Verizon’s Accidental Mea Culpa | Beyond Bandwidth
To summarize: All of the networks have ample capacity and congestion only occurs in a small number of locations, locations where networks interconnect with some last mile ISPs like Verizon. The cost of removing that congestion is absolutely trivial. It takes two parties to remove congestion at an interconnect point. I can confirm that Level 3 is not the party refusing to add that capacity. In fact, Level 3 has asked Verizon for a long time to add interconnection capacity and to deliver the traffic its customers are requesting from our customers, but Verizon refuses.

Why might that be? Maybe we should ask David Young.
verizon  legal  broadband  netneutrality  internet  business  netflix  regulation  government 
july 2014 by jtyost2
Verizon made an enemy tonight
On a flight back to New York I read Level 3’s assessment of the latest round of the Netflix vs Internet Provider debacle.

The summarized version is that basically Netflix is slow because Verizon refuses to add capacity to peer with Level 3. Fixing the situation would cost Verizon on the order of a few thousand (that’s right thousand) dollars. Level 3 is even willing to foot the bill. But Verizon refuses.
vpn  netflix  verizon  netneutrality  broadband  internet  legal  business 
july 2014 by jtyost2
There’s “no congestion,” Verizon says, despite continued Netflix problems
Netflix also agreed to pay Comcast for a direct connection, and performance on that network improved almost immediately after the deal was announced. So why, 10 weeks after the Netflix/Verizon deal, is there still congestion at interconnection points?

As we reported last month, Comcast was able to establish the connections quickly because it spent months working with Netflix to prepare the necessary infrastructure even before the companies agreed to monetary terms. That includes a few hundred 10 Gigabit Ethernet ports spread across 10 carrier-neutral Internet exchange points.

Compared to Comcast, Verizon’s infrastructure team was unprepared for the deal. In June, a Verizon statement said, “we will be incrementally rolling it out starting next month and progressing through the fourth quarter.” At the time, Verizon and Netflix had set up a test connection in Dallas and were working on setting up peering connections in 13 cities.

The connections apparently aren’t ready yet, and Young today blamed Netflix for continuing to send traffic over congested links. It’s customary for Verizon to “negotiate reasonable commercial arrangements with transit providers or content providers to ensure a level of capacity that accommodates their volume of traffic,” he wrote. “Such arrangements have been common practice for content delivery networks in the Internet ecosystem for many years, and Netflix is fully capable of taking the necessary and customary steps to ensure that its connections match its traffic volumes.”

That’s true as far as it goes, but the statement doesn’t mention that Netflix already capitulated to Verizon’s terms more than 10 weeks ago.

We asked Verizon spokespeople today how much progress has been made setting up the connections but the company declined comment. Young’s blog post didn’t shed any light on when significant numbers of customers can start seeing improvements.

“We are working aggressively with Netflix to establish new, direct connections from Netflix to Verizon’s network,” Young wrote. “The benefit of these direct connections will be two-fold. First, Verizon customers who use Netflix will have a significantly improved experience as Netflix traffic flows over non-congested links. Early tests indicate that this is the case. The other benefit will be that the congestion that we are seeing today on those links between these middleman networks and our L.A. border router will likely go away once the huge volume of Netflix traffic is routed more efficiently. This will improve performance for any other traffic that is currently being affected over those connections.”

Netflix has tried to rally customers to its cause, telling people who experience streaming trouble that “The Verizon network is crowded right now.”

Today, the company repeated its call for rules that prevent ISPs from charging interconnection fees to content companies.

“We’d like to thank Verizon for laying out the issue so nicely,” a Netflix spokesperson said in a statement sent to Ars. “Congestion at the interconnection point is controlled by ISPs like Verizon. When Verizon fails to upgrade those interconnections, consumers get a lousy experience despite paying for more than enough bandwidth to enjoy high-quality Netflix video. That’s why Netflix is calling for strong net neutrality that covers the interconnection needed for consumers to get the quality of Internet they pay for.”

Netflix did not offer any update on when the peering links with Verizon will be established.
netflix  verizon  netneutrality  internet  regulation  business  fcc 
july 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix tells customer, “The Verizon network is crowded right now”
Netflix has found another way to insult Internet service providers that it blames for poor performance. Netflix customer Yuri Victor, a designer for Vox Media, last night tweeted a picture of a message he got from Netflix that said, “The Verizon network is crowded right now. Adjusting video for smoother playback…”

Netflix already releases monthly speed rankings for each Internet provider, and those showed that Netflix performance on Verizon and Comcast was dropping for months as the companies squabbled over money. After Netflix paid Comcast for a direct connection to its network—a “paid peering” deal—performance improved 65 percent.
netflix  verizon  isp  internet  broadband  netneutrality 
june 2014 by jtyost2
The Netflix Tech Blog: HTML5 Video in Safari on OS X Yosemite
We're excited to announce that Netflix streaming in HTML5 video is now available in Safari on OS X Yosemite! We've been working closely with Apple to implement the Premium Video Extensions in Safari, which allow playback of premium video content in the browser without the use of plugins. If you're in Apple's Mac Developer Program, or soon the OS X Beta Program, you can install the beta version of OS X Yosemite. With the OS X Yosemite Beta on a modern Mac, you can visit today in Safari and watch your favorite movies and TV shows using HTML5 video without the need to install any plugins.

We're especially excited that Apple implemented the Media Source Extensions (MSE) using their highly optimized video pipeline on OS X. This lets you watch Netflix in buttery smooth 1080p without hogging your CPU or draining your battery. In fact, this allows you to get up to 2 hours longer battery life on a MacBook Air streaming Netflix in 1080p - that’s enough time for one more movie!

Apple also implemented the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) which provides the content protection needed for premium video services like Netflix.

Finally, Apple implemented the Web Cryptography API (WebCrypto) in Safari, which allows us to encrypt and decrypt communication between our JavaScript application and the Netflix servers.

The Premium Video Extensions do away with the need for proprietary plugin technologies for streaming video. In addition to Safari on OS X Yosemite, plugin-free playback is also available in IE 11 on Windows 8.1, and we look forward to a time when these APIs are available on all browsers.

Congratulations to the Apple team for advancing premium video on the web with Yosemite! We’re looking forward to the Yosemite launch this Fall.
html5  html  netflix  drm  safari  encryption  video 
june 2014 by jtyost2
If Comcast CEO Brian Roberts Really Believes Netflix Gets Bandwidth For Free, Will He Pay Netflix's Bandwidth Bill? | Techdirt
So as we did with McCurry, we’d like to make a small request of Roberts: if he’s so sure that Netflix pays nothing for these things, why not agree to pay Netflix’s bandwidth bill? After all, he’s arguing that it’s free, so he shouldn’t have to pay anything. Of course he knows that Netflix pays a ton for bandwidth. And he knows that his customers pay a ton for bandwidth. He’s just hoping to get them both to pay more.
comcast  business  netflix  internet  netneutrality  broadband 
may 2014 by jtyost2
Comcast Response to Netflix
Comcast has a multiplicity of other agreements just like the one Netflix approached us to negotiate, and so has every other Internet service provider for the last two decades. And those agreements have not harmed consumers or increased costs for content providers – if anything, they have decreased the costs those providers would have paid to others.  As at least one independent commentator has pointed out, it was not Comcast that was creating viewability issues for Netflix customers, it was Netflix’s commercial transit decisions that created these issues. No ISP in the country has been a stronger supporter of the Open Internet than Comcast – and we remain committed both to providing our customers with a free and open Internet and to supporting appropriate FCC rules to ensure that consumers’ access to the Internet is protected in a legally enforceable way.
comcast  netflix  netneutrality  broadband  internet  regulation  business  legal 
april 2014 by jtyost2
BBC News - Netflix profits rise and price hike plan announced
Netflix has reported profits of $53m (£32m) during the first quarter of 2014, and revealed plans for a subscription price increase.

The internet video streaming firm said it added 2.25 million new members during the period, bringing its total global membership to 48 million.

It also announced a potential "one or two dollar increase" in monthly rates for new members later this year.

Shares in the firm soared more than 6% in after hours trading.

Chief executive Reed Hastings said the success of Netflix's original programming was behind its membership increase, in particular highlighting Kevin Spacey-led drama House of Cards.

He said that increasing subscription rates would help the firm "acquire more content and deliver an even better streaming experience."

However, despite the firm's strong results, he set himself a larger target.

"We are approaching 50 million global members, but that is far short of HBO's 130 million," he wrote in a letter to shareholders, pointing to the US cable television leader.

"We are eager to close the gap."
netflix  business 
april 2014 by jtyost2
AT&T to Netflix: if you don't bribe us to do our job, you're asking for a "free lunch"
AT&T Senior Executive Vice President of Legislative Affairs James Cicconi has written a monumentally stupid attack on Reed Hasting’s call for Net Neutrality. Cicconi says, “there is no free lunch, and there’s also no cost-free delivery of streaming movies. Someone has to pay that cost. Mr. Hastings’ arrogant proposition is that everyone else should pay but Netflix.”

What Cicconi ignores is that Netflix is paying its ISPs to be connected to the Internet. And AT&T’s customers are paying to be connected to the Internet. And AT&T’s customers are asking to have the service they are paying for to be connected to the service Netflix is paying for. AT&T is then demanding that Netflix pay it a bribe in order to carry out the service that its customers are paying for.
at&t  legal  business  internet  netneutrality  netflix 
march 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix US & Canada Blog: Internet Tolls And The Case For Strong Net Neutrality
Netflix believes strong net neutrality is critical, but in the near term we will in cases pay the toll to the powerful ISPs to protect our consumer experience. When we do so, we don’t pay for priority access against competitors, just for interconnection. A few weeks ago, we agreed to pay Comcast and our members are now getting a good experience again. Comcast has been an industry leader in supporting weak net neutrality, and we hope they’ll support strong net neutrality as well.

ISPs sometimes point to data showing that Netflix members account for about 30% of peak residential Internet traffic, so the ISPs want us to share in their costs. But they don't also offer for Netflix or similar services to share in the ISPs revenue, so cost-sharing makes no sense. When an ISP sells a consumer a 10 or 50 megabits-per-second Internet package, the consumer should get that rate, no matter where the data is coming from.

Some ISPs say that Netflix is unilaterally "dumping as much volume" (Verizon CFO) as it wants onto their networks. Netflix isn't "dumping" data; it's satisfying requests made by ISP customers who pay a lot of money for high speed Internet. Netflix doesn't send data unless members request a movie or TV show.

Interestingly, there is one special case where no-fee interconnection is embraced by the big ISPs -- when they are connecting among themselves. They argue this is because roughly the same amount of data comes and goes between their networks. But when we ask them if we too would qualify for no-fee interconnect if we changed our service to upload as much data as we download** -- thus filling their upstream networks and nearly doubling our total traffic -- there is an uncomfortable silence. That's because the ISP argument isn't sensible. Big ISPs aren't paying money to services like online backup that generate more upstream than downstream traffic. Data direction, in other words, has nothing to do with costs.

ISPs around the world are investing in high-speed Internet and most already practice strong net neutrality. With strong net neutrality, new services requiring high-speed Internet can emerge and become popular, spurring even more demand for the lucrative high-speed packages ISPs offer. With strong net neutrality, everyone avoids the kind of brinkmanship over blackouts that plague the cable industry and harms consumers. As the Wall Street Journal chart shows, we're already getting to the brownout stage. Consumers deserve better.

Some big ISPs are extracting a toll because they can -- they effectively control access to millions of consumers and are willing to sacrifice the interests of their own customers to press Netflix and others to pay. Though they have the scale and power to do this, they should realize it is in their long term interest to back strong net neutrality. While in the short term Netflix will in cases reluctantly pay large ISPs to ensure a high quality member experience, we will continue to fight for the Internet the world needs and deserves.
netflix  netneutrality  internet  comcast  business  legal  verizon 
march 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix packets being dropped every day because Verizon wants more money
The battle over who should pay to carry Netflix traffic is heating up again, and one of the main players blames Verizon’s greed for the poor performance that many consumers see when trying to watch streaming video.

Cogent Communications CEO Dave Schaeffer made his case in an interview with Ars yesterday, saying Verizon is refusing to upgrade the infrastructure that carries Internet traffic from one network to another unless outrageous demands for payment are met.

The network connections between Cogent and Verizon, crucial for carrying streaming video and other content to Verizon’s home Internet customers, “are full,” Schaeffer said. “They are more than full. They are so full that today a significant amount of packets are being dropped between the networks.”
netflix  verizon  netneutrality  bandwidth  broadband  internet  business  cogent  legal  regulation  government  fcc 
february 2014 by jtyost2
Report: Netflix Agrees to Pay Comcast For Access to Broadband Network
What does this all mean for you? For one thing, Comcast customers are due to see some serious improvement when it comes to streaming video. But it’s an ominous sign for the ongoing battle for net neutrality—a far more complex issue at stake here. In January, a federal court dealt a death blow to net neutrality when it struck down the FCC’s open Internet rules, which demand, essentially, that all data be treated equal.

That decision opened up the possibility that broadband providers—like Comcast—could start giving specific companies—like Netflix—preferential treatment. But for now, it’s still unclear what, if anything, this definitive agreement could mean for net neutrality.
netflix  comcast  fcc  regulation  government  business  internet  netneutrality  legal  monopoly  broadband 
february 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix is paying Comcast for direct connection to network, WSJ reports
Netflix has tried to convince ISPs to join its Open Connect program, which involves either peering, caching, or both. Video caches inside an ISP’s network brings content closer to customers, while peering involves a direct connection between Netflix and an ISP, potentially improving quality by eliminating middlemen traffic providers.
Numerous ISPs have turned down this offer, saying Netflix should pay for direct connections, and it appears Comcast has had its way.

A source close to Netflix told Ars that the two companies will make a brief statement confirming the news this afternoon. The company will not confirm that there is any payment changing hands, but that a compromise was reached. Comcast and Netflix are interconnecting at Internet exchanges, the source said, suggesting a peering agreement.

“In exchange for payment, Netflix will get direct access to Comcast’s broadband network,” the Journal wrote today, quoting sources. “The multiyear deal comes just 10 days after Comcast agreed to buy Time Warner Cable Inc., which if approved would establish Comcast as by far the dominant provider of broadband in the US, serving 30 million households.”

“Under the deal, Netflix won’t be able to place its servers inside Comcast’s data centers, which Netflix had wanted,” the Journal wrote. “Instead, Comcast will connect to Netflix’s servers at data centers operated by other companies.”
netflix  business  comcast  netneutrality  legal  internet  fcc  regulation  government  video  verizon 
february 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix warns it will provoke customer protest if ISPs violate net neutrality principles | The Verge
Netflix just reported its Q4 2013 earnings, and amidst the good news was a word of caution in the company's letter to investors. Last week, a federal court struck down the FCC's net neutrality rules — and Netflix took notice.  "Unfortunately, Verizon successfully challenged the US net neutrality rules," Netflix writes in its shareholder letter. "In principle, a domestic ISP now can legally impede the video streams that members request from Netflix, degrading the experience we jointly provide."

In a worst-case scenario, Netflix imagines a situation in which it would have to pay fees to ISPs to stop that degradation, but it sounds like the company wouldn't just sit back and let that situation happen. "Were this draconian scenario to unfold with some ISP," Netflix writes, "we would vigorously protest and encourage our members to demand the open Internet they are paying their ISP to deliver."
netflix  internet  business  netneutrality  legal  usa 
january 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix is shooting “House of Cards” in ultra HD. Can America’s broadband networks keep up?
That’s because the show is being shot and produced entirely in a new level of resolution called ultra high-definition, or 4K — a reference to the nearly 4,000 pixels that’ll be packed horizontally into the picture. Speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show Monday, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said Netflix will be partnering with Sony and other companies specifically so that new TVs capable of displaying in 4K will have content to show.

To stream all those extra pixels, you’re going to need a pretty fast Internet connection: about 15 Mbps. For Hastings, this sounds like no big deal.

“This is very practical,” he said. “You can stream 4K over Wi-Fi if you want to.”

Technically, you can stream anything so long as you’ve got a wide enough pipe. And sure, the fact that ultra HD can be compressed into a 15 Mbps stream is impressive in itself.

But 15 Mbps is still a pretty hefty load in a country where the average connection speed still lags at 8.7 Mbps. What Netflix thinks is a reasonable hit to bandwidth would be enough to overwhelm the subscriptions of many Americans. Verizon’s DSL offerings, for instance, max out at 15 Mbps. Comcast’s Xfinity triple-play package starts out with a 25 Mbps connection. And those are just advertised speeds; your mileage may vary depending on the time of day and the load on the network.

Internet providers do offer faster plans for more money; fiber optic connections, for instance, are becoming increasingly popular. But it’s not clear Americans are rushing to adopt those services. According to the Federal Communications Commission’s most recent data, more than half of Internet connections in the United States in 2012 were still slower than 6 Mbps.
netflix  internet  usa  broadband  netneutrality  business  video 
january 2014 by jtyost2
Netflix’s dumbed-down algorithms
I don’t find myself with 2.8 spare hours to watch TV very often, and when I do, I want to make those hours count, by watching something great. For me, and for people like me, Netflix’s micro-genres create little more than a frustrating slurry of mediocrity in which it is increasingly difficult to find the gems. I find it much easier to find something I want to watch on the iTunes rental library than I do on Netflix. Normally, I’ll check to see whether the film in question is available on Netflix, before I click the “rent” button. But there’s something a bit screwy about a world where I find iTunes to be a more useful discovery mechanism for Netflix material than Netflix itself.
netflix  entertainment  software  technology  culture  business  algorthim 
january 2014 by jtyost2
How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood - Alexis C. Madrigal - The Atlantic
How do you systematically dismember thousands of movies using a bunch of different people who all need to have the same understanding of what a given microtag means? In 2006, Yellin holed up with a couple of engineers and spent months developing a document called "Netflix Quantum Theory," which Yellin now derides as "our pretentious name." The name refers to what Yellin used to call "quanta," the little "packets of energy" that compose each movie. He now prefers the term "microtag."

The Netflix Quantum Theory doc spelled out ways of tagging movie endings, the "social acceptability" of lead characters, and dozens of other facets of a movie. Many values are "scalar," that is to say, they go from 1 to 5. So, every movie gets a romance rating, not just the ones labeled "romantic" in the personalized genres. Every movie's ending is rated from happy to sad, passing through ambiguous. Every plot is tagged. Lead characters' jobs are tagged. Movie locations are tagged. Everything. Everyone.

That's the data at the base of the pyramid. It is the basis for creating all the altgenres that I scraped. Netflix's engineers took the microtags and created a syntax for the genres, much of which we were able to reproduce in our generator.

Netflix's personalized genres are, in their own weird way, a tool for introspection.
To me, that's the key step: It's where the human intelligence of the taggers gets combined with the machine intelligence of the algorithms. There's something in the Netflix personalized genres that I think we can tell is not fully human, but is revealing in a way that humans alone might not be.

For example, the adjective "feel good" gets attached to movies that have a certain set of features, most importantly a happy ending. It's not a direct tag that people attach so much as a computed movie category based on an underlying set of tags.

The only semi-similar project that I could think of is Pandora's once-lauded Music Genome Project, but what's amazing about Netflix is that its descriptions of movies are foregrounded. It's not just that Netflix can show you things you might like, but that it can tell you what kinds of things those are. It is, in its own weird way, a tool for introspection.

That distinguishes it from Netflix's old way of recommending movies to you, too. The company used to trumpet the fact that it could kind of predict how many stars you might give a movie. And so, the company encouraged its users to rate movie after movie, so that it could take those numeric values and develop a taste profile for you.

They even offered a $1 million prize to the team that could design an algorithm that would improve the company's ability to predict how many stars users would give movies. It took years to improve the algorithm by a mere 10 percent.

The prize was awarded in 2009, but Netflix never actually incorporated the new models. That's in part because of the work required, but also because Netflix had decided to "go beyond the 5 stars," which is where the personalized genres come in.

The human language of the genres helps people identify with the recommendations. "Predicting something is 3.2 stars is kind of fun if you have an engineering sensibility, but it would be more useful to talk about dysfunctional families and viral plagues. We wanted to put in more language," Yellin said. "We wanted to highlight our personalization because we pride ourselves on putting the right title in front of the right person at the right time."

And nothing highlights their personalization like throwing you a very, very specific altgenre.

So why aren't they ultraspecific, which is to say, super long, like the gonzo genres that our play generator can create?

Yellin said that the genres were limited by three main factors: 1) they only want to display 50 characters for various UI reasons, which eliminates most long genres; 2) there had to be a "critical mass" of content that fit the description of the genre, at least in Netflix's extended DVD catalog; and 3) they only wanted genres that made syntactic sense.

"We're gonna tag how much romance is in a movie. We're not gonna tell you how much romance is in it, but we're gonna recommend it."
We ignore all of these constraints and that's precisely why our generator is hilarious. In Netflix's real world, there are no genres that have more than five descriptors. Four descriptors are rare, but they do show up for users: Scary Cult Mad-Scientist Movies from the 1970s. Three descriptors are more common: Feel-good Foreign Comedies for Hopeless Romantics. Two are widely used: Steamy Mind Game Movies. And, of course, there are many ones: Quirky Movies.

A fascinating thing I learned from Yellin is that the underlying tagging data isn't just used to create genres, but also to increase the level of personalization in all the movies a user is shown. So, if Netflix knows you love Action Adventure movies with high romantic ratings (on their 1-5 scale), it might show you that kind of movie, without ever saying, "Romantic Action Adventure Movies."

"We're gonna tag how much romance is in a movie. We're not gonna tell you how much romance is in it, but we're gonna recommend it," Yellin said. "You're gonna get an action row and it may have more or less romance in it based on what we know about you."

As Yellin talked, it occurred to me that Netflix has built a system that really only has one analog in the tech world: Facebook's NewsFeed. But instead of serving you up the pieces of web content that the algorithm thinks you'll like, Netflix is serving you up filmed entertainment.

Which makes its hybrid human and machine intelligence approach that much more impressive. They could have purely used computation. For example, looking at people with similar viewing habits and recommending movies based on what they watched. (And Netflix does use this kind of data, too.) But they went beyond that approach to look at the content itself.

"It's a real combination: machine-learned, algorithms, algorithmic syntax," Yellin said, "and also a bunch of geeks who love this stuff going deep."

As a thought experiment: Imagine if Facebook broke down individual websites according to a 36-page tagging document that let the company truly understand what it was people liked about Atlantic or Popular Science or 4chan or ViralNova?

It might be impossible with web content. But if Netflix's system didn't already exist, most people would probably say that it couldn't exist either.
netflix  software  technology  datamining  research  personalization  algorithm 
january 2014 by jtyost2
FCC chair: ISPs should be able to charge Netflix for Internet fast lane
Newly anointed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler said this week that it would be OK for Internet service providers to charge Netflix and other companies for a faster lane to consumers.

Wheeler’s stance is surprising given that it appears to contradict the FCC’s Open Internet Order, passed under his predecessor in 2010. That order, which sets out the country’s network neutrality rules, says that fixed broadband providers may not “unreasonably discriminate” against any type of traffic. The order specifically calls out pay-for-play arrangements as being potential violations.

“[B]roadband providers that sought to offer pay-for-priority services would have an incentive to limit the quality of service provided to non-prioritized traffic,” the rules state. “For a number of reasons… a commercial arrangement between a broadband provider and a third party to directly or indirectly favor some traffic over other traffic in the broadband Internet access service connection to a subscriber of the broadband provider (i.e. ‘pay for priority’) would raise significant cause for concern. … [A]s a general matter, it is unlikely that pay for priority would satisfy the ‘no unreasonable discrimination’ standard.”

The Open Internet Order is being challenged in court by Verizon. A Verizon win would let ISPs block content or charge providers for a faster lane to customers. But the rule is still in place, at least until the US Court of Appeals makes a decision.

Wheeler (a former lobbyist for the cable and wireless industries) spoke positively about the order but said he wouldn’t mind if Netflix has to pay for a faster lane to consumers while answering questions Monday after a policy speech at Ohio State University.

“I am a firm believer in the market,” he said. “I think we’re also going to see a two-sided market where Netflix might say, ‘well, I’ll pay in order to make sure that you might receive, my subscriber receives, the best possible transmission of this movie.’ I think we want to let those kinds of things evolve. We want to observe what happens from that, and we want to make decisions accordingly, but I go back to the fact that the marketplace is where these decisions ought to be made, and the functionality of a competitive marketplace dictates the degree of regulation.”

Wheeler’s comment implies that he believes the Open Internet Order already allows such arrangements or that he wants to change it.

The remark came just seconds after Wheeler said, “we stand for an open Internet.” He said he expects the court decision on the net neutrality rule to come this month or next month and that he hopes that it will at least affirm the FCC’s position that ISPs shouldn’t be allowed to block content. “We’re hopeful that the court will affirm the fact that reasonable means that [we can require] carriers to make sure they provide access,” he said.
fcc  regulation  government  netneutrality  isp  internet  technology  netflix  business  usa 
december 2013 by jtyost2
Marvel creating four superhero shows exclusively for Netflix, premiering in 2015 | The Verge
Marvel is creating four live-action superhero series and an Avengers-style special event that will all air exclusively on Netflix, beginning in 2015. The first of the TV series will focus on Daredevil, while the following series will star Jessica Jones, Iron Fist, and Luke Cage. At least 13 episodes of each series will be produced, and — like all good Marvel series — they'll eventually come together for a special event. For Netflix, that event will be a mini-series called The Defenders, though there's no word on just how long it'll run.
netflix  marvel  television  business 
november 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix Poised to Pass HBO in Paid U.S. Subscribers - Bloomberg
Netflix Inc. (NFLX) is poised to pass HBO in paid U.S. subscribers, showing Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings is making progress toward a goal of transforming the streaming service to a Web-based television network.
Netflix, based in Los Gatos, California, reports third-quarter results today after markets close. Already the world’s largest subscription-video service, the company probably reached 30 million paying U.S. customers as of Sept. 30, according to Needham & Co. HBO, Time Warner Inc. (TWX)’s premium cable-TV network, has about 28.7 million, according to researcher SNL Kagan.
Hastings has hooked viewers with the Emmy-winning original series “House of Cards” and a library of films and TV shows. To fuel more growth, Netflix is looking to bring its Web-based service to cable-TV systems. Cable providers are starting to see the $8-a-month subscription as an asset, and some are working to integrate Netflix with traditional programming.
“Consumers are probably going to come to see Netflix as being more valuable than other networks,” said Tony Wible, an analyst at Janney Capital Markets in Philadelphia. The monthly price “makes it very difficult for others to be in the business.”
Netflix is in talks with U.S. cable providers including Cox Communications Inc., Suddenlink Communications, RCN Telecom Services and Atlantic Broadband Finance LLC, people with knowledge of the situation said last week.
Including free trials, Netflix’s U.S. subscribers probably reached 31 million in the third quarter, the average of eight analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. That’s an increase of about 4 percent from 29.8 million as of June 30. Paid users were 28.6 million in the second quarter.
netflix  hbo  business  television 
october 2013 by jtyost2
Kevin Spacey Goes All House of Cards on Hollywood (Video) - Kara Swisher - Media - AllThingsD
In case you missed this most excellent keynote speech at the Edinburgh International Television Festival’s high-profile James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture, actor Kevin Spacey gave what is perhaps the most cogent call to arms for the entertainment industry to please get with this Internet thing.
Spacey, who stars in Netflix’s sensational “House of Cards” series, noted that it was a “relief for all of you that I am not someone with an important job in broadcasting, using this speech to audition for an even more important job in broadcasting.”
But he is very important, given that the success of the show and its unorthodox delivery to consumers — over the Internets and all at once — has proved a critical point. Which is: The kids love it.
“There’s no difference [to them] watching ‘Avatar’ on an iPad or watching YouTube on a TV and watching ‘Game of Thrones’ on their computer,’” Spacey said. “It’s all content. It’s all story.”
And: “The device and length are irrelevant.”
And: “Studios and networks who ignore either shift — whether the increasing sophistication of storytelling, or the constantly shifting sands of technological advancement — will be left behind.”
Or, as Francis Underwood — the political nightmare Spacey plays with glee — said in the first lines of “House of Cards,” as he mercy-strangles a dog hurt badly by a car: “There are two kinds of pain. The sort of pain that makes you strong, or useless pain. The sort of pain that’s only suffering. I have no patience for useless things. Moments like this require someone who will act, do the unpleasant thing, the necessary thing.”
television  netflix  business  internet  media  video 
august 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix Responds to Crop Controversy
Netflix claims it actually looks for, and replaces titles that are erroneously presented in a cropped format, when they are also available as a widescreen presentation. This is a very encouraging statement, I hope it leads to a renewed effort—to avoid the accidental inclusion of cropped widescreen movies in the Netflix instant streaming catalog.
netflix  video 
july 2013 by jtyost2
Google abruptly ends 'limited' Netflix promotion for Chromecast buyers | The Verge
Google is no longer including three free months of Netflix with Chromecast purchases. Just one day after introducing its minuscule streaming device, Google has quickly ended the promotion that made Chromecast's already cheap $35 price seem like even more of a bargain. "Due to overwhelming demand for Chromecast devices since launch, the 3-month Netflix promotion (which was available in limited quantities) is no longer available," the company told The Los Angeles Times in a statement. Both new and existing Netflix customers could redeem the three-month subscription code that was included with early purchases. Presumably existing orders will receive the bonus as promised, but the Netflix offer has already been wiped off of the Chromecast product page at Google Play.
google  netflix  GoogleChromecast  business  advertising  marketing 
july 2013 by jtyost2
Google Fiber broadcast television impact analysis
The early reviews of Google Fiber are in from Kansas City and one of the most attractive features of the service seems to be how it makes Netflix irresistible. The buffering annoyances that consumers take for granted vanish as Google Fiber feeds movies and shows instantly to eager Silicon Prairie dwellers. What’s more, the recently launched Google Fiber TV app offers video on demand for iPad. This direction is fascinating because of the hottest trend in US consumer behavior: broadcast television audience collapse.

TV show audiences have been falling for a long time, but recently the decline has turned into a plunge. According to Goldman Sachs, ratings in the 18-49 year demo dropped by a hideous 17% last winter, the steepest drop ever. “American Idol” is losing nearly 25% of its audience in a year. Most of the big new shows have been disasters and old staples like “Survivor” and “Dancing with Stars” are in free fall.

Everyone has long known that the broadcast dinosaurs are in trouble but it is only now becoming clear just how rapidly they are losing their grip on consumers in the United States. This coincides with rapid growth of time spent on mobile apps: American iPhone owners now waste two hours per day on apps and annualized growth of daily engagement still tops 30%. But it also opens up completely new vistas for Netflix, Amazon, Google and Apple when it comes to video distribution.

It now looks like American demand for video on demand is far bigger than was estimated just a year ago. The accelerating erosion of broadcast television frees up consumer time and hits ad revenue of CBS, Fox and their peers. This in turn will limit their ability to create big-budget shows that has been their last line of defense. That cycle is starting to turn just as challengers with serious money to burn are pushing into content creation.

Netflix had a hit with its $100 million “House of Cards” series that debuted during the quarter when Netflix beat Wall Street consensus handily. The buzz around “Arrested Development” is deafening and will likely raise the profile of Netflix original programming considerably. It is only a matter of time before deep-pocketed Google and/or Amazon take the plunge and start shoveling big bucks into television production. Amazon is already previewing a dozen pilots it has produced, trying to gauge which ones to take into full production.

Google Fiber and its ilk may be the final straw that will break the back of broadcast television. Once high-speed video downloading becomes widely available, instant access to VOD services will make them even more appealing. What Netflix showed with “House of Cards” is that it’s possible to take a B-list star, create a high concept show around him and reap tons of media coverage. Soon enough we will see Alicia Silverstone and Jeff Goldblum starring in an Amazon show discovering the rebirth of a Bal-Ammon cult in SARS-ravaged Fargo.

What makes this possible is the complete paralysis of the broadcast dinos. All the majors are frozen in terror, repeating old behavioral patterns that turned self-destructive years ago. NBC spent the annual defense budget of Mauritius to promote “Ready for Love,” a tired Bachelor clone. ABC is going to build its autumn slate on “Scandal”, “Revenge” and “Betrayal,” as well as a hasty spin-off of its fading “Once Upon a Time” franchise. ABC also handed Robin Williams a comeback vehicle. Sensing desperation, audiences are tuning out in disgust.

Google is well-positioned to turn Google Fiber into the core technology enabling instant VOD access; Netflix is pioneering the new production/distribution logic; Amazon is sneakily exploiting its Prime service to slip video consumption to its customer base. The big question mark here is Apple. Why isn’t Apple being more aggressive in attacking the dying broadcasting giants? Is it so wrapped up with its smartphone and tablet challenges that it does not have the time? Or is there some grand design being developed in secret that will stun the world in few months?
google  GoogleFiber  internet  technology  video  television  apple  netflix  ABC  CBS 
may 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix, Reed Hastings Survive Missteps to Join Silicon Valley's Elite - Businessweek
While Netflix started out as a DVD-by-mail rental service, it’s now striving to become something far more complex: an entertainment power on par with HBO, if not HBO’s parent company, Time Warner (TWX). Netflix plans to lead the shift to delivering television-style programming over the Internet and has developed sophisticated technology to support that transition. The company has invested hundreds of millions of dollars in original series—House of Cards, Hemlock Grove, Arrested Development, Orange Is the New Black, a Ricky Gervais show called Derek, and Turbo: F.A.S.T., a kids show co-produced with DreamWorks Animation (DWA)—to become a major player in Hollywood. “We think of the technology as a vehicle for creating a better, more modern experience for the content we have,” says Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings. “What we’re really competing for quite broadly is people’s time.”

About 18 months ago, Netflix and Hastings were spending much of their time trying to save face. Netflix had awkwardly unveiled plans to raise prices and separate into two companies—a DVD mailer called Qwikster and a streaming entity still under the Netflix name—and lost millions of customers in the process. The share price fell from $298 to $52.81.

After issuing a flurry of apologies, Netflix has mounted one of the all-time great comebacks. House of Cards arrived to mostly spectacular reviews, while investors were equally enthusiastic about the company’s first-quarter results. Revenue rose 18 percent from the same period last year to $1.02 billion, while the company added 2 million subscribers in the U.S. alone, dispelling widespread fears that its growth had slowed. Shares of Netflix are back above $200. It’s one of the best-performing stocks of the year.
netflix  business  ReedHastings  cloudcomputing  technology  software 
may 2013 by jtyost2
AOL vs. Netflix: The Entire Internet In One Simple Chart
At the end of March, almost 2.7 million people still subscribed to AOL service, the company reported this morning. That’s about where Netflix stood at the end of 2004.

Since then, Netflix’s subscriber base has grown — 29 million at the end of March — and AOL’s has declined at a remarkably parallel rate. But that makes perfect sense: Nothing says “dialup” more than AOL, and few services have benefited more from the growth of broadband than Netflix. (The paths cross in early 2008, just as Netflix’s streaming video service was starting to take off.)

Worth noting: Netflix now has more subscribers than AOL ever had. (The distinction changed hands late last year.) This makes sense, given the rise of mobile devices, cheaper computers, connected videogame consoles/TVs, and just the increasing popularity of the Internet, thanks to broadband.
Worth pondering: What will eventually cause Netflix’s decline? Missing the next era of Internet technology? (Something mobile-first or mobile-only?) Internal crumbling? Or are Netflix’s best years just getting started?
netflix  aol  technology  internet  business 
may 2013 by jtyost2
The Netflix Tech Blog: HTML5 Video at Netflix
We've been working with Google to implement support for the HTML5 Premium Video Extensions in the Chrome browser, and we've just started using this technology on the Samsung ARM-Based Chromebook. Our player on this Chromebook device uses the Media Source Extensions and Encrypted Media Extensions to adaptively stream protected content.  WebCrypto hasn't been implemented in Chrome yet, so we're using a Netflix-developed PPAPI (Pepper Plugin API) plugin which provides these cryptographic operations for now.  We will remove this last remaining browser plugin as soon as WebCrypto is available directly in the Chrome browser.  At that point, we can begin testing our new HTML5 video player on Windows and OS X.

We're excited about the future of premium video playback on the web, and we look forward to the day that these Premium Video Extensions are implemented in all browsers!
netflix  html5  html  drm  video  software  googlechrome  internet  browser  standards  w3c 
april 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix signs up The Matrix, Babylon 5 creators to develop a new sci-fi series: Sense8
Continuing its quest to sate subscribers' appetites with a flow of original content, Netflix has announced a new original series, Sense8. Due in late 2014, it's being developed by the Wachowskis of The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas and Speed Racer fame, as well as J. Michael Straczynski, creator of Babylon 5. Details are thin, but the press release promises a gripping global tale of minds linked and souls hunted with a ten episode run for its first season.

As it did with House of Cards, Arrested Development and other productions, Netflix is relying heavily on data from viewers to decide which programs to support. According to chief content officer Ted Sarandos, "Andy and Lana Wachowski and Joe Straczynski are among the most imaginative writers and gifted visual storytellers of our time," whose creations are very frequently viewed on the service. According to the creators themselves, they've sought to work together for a decade, and this idea started from a late night conversation about "the ways technology simultaneously unites and divides us." If that's not enough for now, then there are a few more details and quotes in the press release, which is included after the break.
netflix  television  media 
march 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix Teams With DreamWorks Animation on Cartoon Series for Children -
Continuing a campaign to deepen its appeal to children, Netflix on Tuesday announced a partnership with DreamWorks Animation to create an original cartoon series.

The show, expected to make its debut on the streaming service in December, will be based on DreamWorks Animation’s coming movie “Turbo,” about a snail who gains the power of superspeed. The Netflix spinoff will be called “Turbo: F.A.S.T.,” which stands for Fast Action Stunt Team.

Netflix is gambling that “Turbo” will be a hit when it arrives in theaters on July 19. Although DreamWorks Animation has high hopes for that movie, it’s still anyone’s guess how audiences will respond; the company’s last film, “Rise of the Guardians,” was a box-office disappointment.

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, said in a statement that DreamWorks Animation had “a long track record of creating incredibly successful characters.” DreamWorks Animation’s chief executive, Jeffrey Katzenberg, never shy about making a hard sell, called the partnership “part of the television revolution.”

A rival streaming service, Amazon’s Prime Instant Video, is racing to prepare its own original series, and has five children’s shows in development.

Netflix, which recently introduced the original series “House of Cards” to strong reviews from critics, has been working over the last several years to enhance its offerings for children. In 2011, it acquired the streaming rights to DreamWorks Animation’s movies and television specials. New films from Disney, Pixar and Marvel will move from Starz to Netflix in late 2016, following a deal the streaming company made with the Walt Disney Company in December.
netflix  television 
february 2013 by jtyost2
Apple Should Embrace Netflix's Latest Move And Make It Their Own -- AppAdvice
Going forward, Apple could learn a lot from Netflix. With all the talk of a rumored Apple television, perhaps Apple should consider getting into the television production business, or at least partnering with someone else. After all, it is in Apple’s DNA to control all aspects of whatever they produce.

Just imagine the excitement were Apple to release an actual television that came with original programming. I bet that it would be huge, for example, if Apple would work with Disney’s Pixar to create original children’s programming only available on Apple devices.

It will be interesting to see what projects like “House of Cards” will mean for mobile users in particular going forward. It should prove exciting.

Netflix customers can view all episodes of “House of Cards” with their monthly subscription. Non-subscribers are able to view the first episode for free by visiting the Netflix website.
netflix  apple  television  media  business 
february 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix aims for net neutrality in 2013 - L.A. Biz
After giving himself a nice Christmas present in the form of a $2 million salary raise, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings will focus his attention on Washington in 2013 in hopes of upholding net neutrality laws and putting up a fight against bandwidth caps, according to Home Media Magazine.

Netflix has its own political action committee, FLIXPAC, that actively works the Washington circuit in favor of legislation that benefits its streaming services. Recently, the company scored a victory in helping amend the Video Privacy Protection Act to allow the social sharing of video views on services like Netflix, if the user opts in. Netflix reportedly spent $1 million on the effort, according to The Hill.

With Netflix looking to dominate the streaming market, it will first make sure all the pieces are in place. First it needs to make sure that the road is paved for social cinema and that studios and consumers see the benefit in sharing information and content. Then the company needs to ensure that the infrastructure exists to usher in the mass shift from DVD to streaming.

Hastings complained as recently as last April on his blog regarding allegations that streaming Netflix video through Comcast cable ISP required higher data usage than Comcast’s Xfinity Streampix SVOD service. Hastings has urged the FCC to look into ISPs’ control of the “last mile” of broadband connectivity in addition to ISPs launching their own video services, per the report.
congress  netflix  netneutrality  business  internet 
january 2013 by jtyost2
Netflix streaming down on some devices thanks to Amazon issues | The Verge
It hasn't been the best year for Amazon Web Services, with the suite of cloud computing products taking down numerous online services in 2012 — and on Christmas Eve here in the US, yet another problem has taken Netflix's streaming services offline. The issue, which first surfaced after 1PM PT today, appears to be centered around the AWS center in Northern Virginia. According to Amazon's status page, the company began investigating problems with its own services at 1:50PT PT. As pointed out by GigaOm, Netflix cloud architect Adrian Cockcroft confirmed on Twitter that AWS was the reason for the streaming problem. There's no timeframe yet for when Netflix streaming will resume as normal, though Cockcroft does note that the problem doesn't exist across all devices. We'll keep you updated with any further developments.
netflix  AmazonWebServices  cloudcomputing 
december 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix says Google Fiber is “most consistently fast ISP in America” | Ars Technica
Sure, you can run or max out your BitTorrent download, but as we found out last month, it’s hard to get a good gauge of how fast and consistent an ISP is using real-world, high-bandwidth applications.

But Netflix, as one of those high-bandwidth services, is taking matters into its own hands and has published its first monthly ranking of major ISPs, “based upon their actual performance across all Netflix streams.”

On Tuesday, Netflix wrote that Google Fiber, which is limited to a few hundred users in Kansas City (Kansas), “is now the most consistently fast ISP in America.”

However, the streaming service’s own numbers put Google Fiber's speed at 2.55Mbps for Netflix streams—far lower, as I observed recently—than one might expect for a gigabit connectio
GoogleFiber  netflix  bandwidth  internet  telecommunications  usa  statistics 
december 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix CEO Says Amazon Losing $1 Billion/Year on Streaming Video - Peter Kafka - Media - AllThingsD
Reed Hastings says that, one day, Amazon will provide real competition for Netflix.
But the Netflix CEO says Jeff Bezos will have to spend a lot of money before that happens: Hastings says Amazon is losing between $500 million and a $1 billion a year as it acquires streaming video content rights.
Hastings says he generated those numbers based on the value of the content deals that Amazon won when the two companies competed head to head. He says he thinks Amazon’s costs are split evenly between its U.S. operations and Europe, where it operates the Lovefilm streaming service.
Last month, Netflix said it was on track to spend $2.1 billion on content over the next year.
In the U.S., Amazon rents and sells digital movies and TV shows on a one-off basis via its Amazon Instant Video service. It also offers a large catalog of titles for free to customers who pay $79 a year for its Prime shipping service, and recently began testing an option that lets customers pay $8 a month for Prime; Hastings’s estimate is based on acquisition costs for the Prime/video bundle.
Netflix charges $8 a month for its streaming service.  netflix  video 
november 2012 by jtyost2
Amazon Taunts Retailers, Netflix with $8-Per-Month Prime Plan | Wired Business |
Only a company as sprawling and powerful as Amazon could take a popular service, make it more expensive, and still reasonably expect that competitors will cringe at the move. Yet Netflix as well as retailers online and off all have reason to fret over Amazon’s recent decision to offer shoppers the option of paying $7.99 per month for Amazon Prime rather than a single $79 annual fee.

To briefly recap: Amazon Prime offers subscribers free two-day shipping as well as access to its online streaming video library and Kindle lending library. As Amazon points out right on the signup screen for Prime, you save more than 20 percent when you choose the annual option, or about $17 per year.

Yet many of us would opt for the monthly plan anyway. Either our monthly budgets can’t absorb the higher one-time outlay, or $7.99 instead of $79 just feels cheaper, even though we know from basic arithmetic that it’s not. This is a basic trope of behavioral economics: We tend to place less value on delayed gratification, even if the reward in the end is greater.

Beyond that basic human tendency, Amazon is also counting on us to notice that $7.99 is the monthly price of a Netflix streaming video-only plan. While Amazon Prime’s streaming video selection is uneven, Prime for the same price is offering you video plus e-books plus free shipping just as the holiday shopping season gets under way.

Of course, in terms of sheer dollars saved, Amazon Prime is much more a shipping service with video and books as perks rather than the other way around. In that sense, the monthly pricing plan takes much more focused aim at its real competitors, retailers. From a marketing standpoint, here’s what Amazon is telling shoppers: You could buy online from someone else — or, for the price of a monthly Netflix subscription, you can get nearly everything on your gift list shipped to you for free in two days.

It also appears that the monthly plan is truly month-to-month, not an annual plan paid in installments. (We’ve reached out to Amazon to confirm, though there’s nothing to suggest when you sign up for the monthly plan that this isn’t the case.) If the plan is truly month-to-month, this means that you could sign up now, do all your holiday shopping in under a month, and cancel before your credit card is charged again. Total cost of shipping on all your gifts: $7.99.  AmazonPrime  business  ecommerce  netflix  politics 
november 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix agrees to subtitle all films by 2014
In an agreement that the National Association for the Deaf (NAD) calls “a model for the streaming video industry,” Netflix has agreed to caption all of its shows by the year 2014.

The online-streaming giant is already captioning 82 percent of its videos, according to the consent decree [PDF] filed in court yesterday. Now, it’s bound to finish its entire library, reaching the 90 percent mark in 2013 and 100 percent by 2014.

The company has also agreed to speedily caption new content. The agreement says that Netflix will put captions on new content within 30 days by 2014; within 14 days by 2015; and within 7 days by 2016, “and shall strive to reach a point at which Conforming Captions are provided simultaneously with launch at all times.”

Netflix provides its service on more than 1,000 devices; its captioning service works on most, but not all, of those.The company promises to make “good faith, diligent efforts” to get it working on all devices, but it isn’t obligated to get 100% device compatibility.

The agreement ends a class-action lawsuit that NAD filed in 2010, claiming that Netflix’s website was a “place of public accommodation” that was out of compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. While the parties have made nice now, Netflix spent a fair amount of time trying to get the lawsuit kicked out first.

Netflix said that the ADA didn’t apply in this case, because it was superseded by a new law directing the FCC to set rules for online captioning. In June, however, Netflix definitively lost that argument, when a Massachusetts federal judge ruled [PDF] that the new law was meant to “complement, not supplant” the Americans with Disabilities Act.

“The National Association of the Deaf congratulates Netflix for committing to 100 percent captioning, and is thrilled to announce that 48 million deaf and hard of hearing people will be able to fully access Netflix’s Watch Instantly services,” said NAD CEO Howard Rosenblum in a press release accompanying the decree.

As part of the consent decree, Netflix will pay $755,000 to plaintiffs’ lawyers who prosecuted the lawsuit, as well as $40,000 for the decree to be implemented over the next four years.
netflix  video  deaf  disability  legal  business  politics 
october 2012 by jtyost2
The code I used to get in the top #150 in the Netflix Prize
netflix  datamining  programming  politics 
august 2012 by jtyost2
The Decline of DVD-by-Mail, or Further Thoughts on the Digital Death of Copyright’s First Sale Doctrine
Unlike the DVD-by-mail model, Netflix streaming implicates the movie studios’ public performance right in their copyrighted works. The law right now is a little unclear on this point, the question being under what circumstances streaming to the home is a transmission “to the public” within the meaning of the Copyright Act.  (James Grimmelmann has a great rundown of the cases and their tortured logic here.) So Netflix is transitioning from an operating model that is clearly covered by an exception to copyright law to one that (very probably) requires permission for every content delivery.  Whether the customer is watching a DVD or streaming, the customer’s experience is the same (assuming a good broadband connection), but the copyright calculus for the business delivering the content is different depending on the delivery medium. Under the streaming delivery model, Netflix has been negotiating licensing agreements to secure public performance rights, which it never had to do under the DVD-by-mail model. Sooner or later, the legal issues around the definition of public performance in the context of streaming-to-the-home will get worked out. In the meantime, Netflix has become a licensee, and the payments to copyright owners are flowing.
copyright  legal  dvd  netflix  usa  business  politics 
july 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix Quietly Smothers 3rd Party App Ecosystem - Bad films are bad
The first implication of these additions: if you decide you just want to create a “Netflix” app, and add significant value on top of the Netflix service, you cannot charge your users for that value. You can do something positive for Netflix, but not for yourself. There is no incentive for you to build something useful for Netflix customers, and if you’ve already built your app, you have three months left.

The second implication of these additions: if you want to play with Netflix, you must close your eyes and pretend that no other online streaming services exist, or might have films your users want to see. We know that a lot of our users are Netflix customers, but we also understand that they don’t only use Netflix. So we integrated with Netflix to help people find the best films to watch in whichever way best suits them. We think that’s of mutual benefit to Netflix and our users.

This looks to us like a play to keep users from moving their viewing history onto competing services, and to stop their users from seeing gaps in their content library that may be available for purchase elsewhere. While this might be in their short term interest, in the longer term, making it harder for people who want to spend money watching films legally online cannot be a good business decision.

In an industry as fragmented and combative as online streaming, the consumer’s experience is, sadly, often the first to be compromised. Please let us know your thoughts in the comments.
Netflix  api  software  technology  legal  business  politics 
june 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix to Comcast: Raising the cap is not enough — Online Video News
Thought Netflix and Comcast would kiss and make up after the broadband provider announced today that it would raise its bandwidth cap from 250GB to 300GB per month? Think again. Here’s the statement a Netflix spokesperson s me via email:

“Increasing the data cap is a small step in the right direction, but unfortunately Comcast continues to treat its own Internet delivered video different under the cap than other Internet delivered video. We continue to stand by the principle that ISPs should treat all providers of video services equally.”

In other words: The key issue of how Comcast treats its own on demand traffic hasn’t been resolved. Comcast said earlier today in a statement that it adheres to FCC principles that bind it to treat all IP traffic equally, but also repeated its assertion that Xfinity simply isn’t part of the Internet – something that our own Stacey Higginbotham has called dodging the net neutrality issue. Read her excellent analysis of today’s Comcast announcement here.
netflix  bandwidth  internet  NetNeutrality  Comcast  video  ISP  politics 
may 2012 by jtyost2
Holy moly: Netflix clocks 42B API requests per day — Online Video News
Netflix clocked close to 42 billion API requests per day in January, according to the company’s director of engineering Daniel Jacobson, who revealed the number as part of a presentation he recently gave to the Paypal engineering team. In his slides, Jacobson pointed out that the number of API requests has grown 70-fold in just two years, from 600 million in January of 2010 to 41.7 billion in January of 2012.
netflix  API  scalability  programming  software  politics 
may 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix wants to wield more influence in election season
Earlier this week, Netflix filed a statement of organization with the federal government to form a political action committee, or a PAC, which will allow the company to raise and spend money on campaigns and causes in Washington, D.C. The web service registered its newly-founded committee as “Flixpac.”

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, “A PAC can give $5,000 to a candidate per election (primary, general or special) and up to $15,000 annually to a national political party. PACs may receive up to $5,000 each from individuals, other PACs, and party committees per year.” Microsoft is an example of a tech company with heavy influence in the capitol, spending $1.3 million in contributions last year.

Behind the scenes, Netflix has employed lobbyists since the mid-2000’s, although it has only employed full-time lobbyists since the end of 2010. The recent years have seen an exponential growth in Netflix’s cash flow to Congress, however. In 2009 the company spent $20,000 in lobby money, which grew to $130,000 in 2010, and by 2011 the company reported spending half a million dollars lobbying Congress.

A lobbying registration form from November 2010 indicated Netflix’s “current and anticipated” lobbying issues included “copyright, telecommunications, consumer protection, tax and the Internet.” Donations from Flixpac will likely go to candidates who have strong feelings on those issues as well.

Earlier this year, while congress battled over SOPA and PIPA, Netflix largely stayed out of the spotlight, and vacillated on its support of the acts until it took a publicly neutral stance. While Politico suggests the PAC formation is “another political tool with which to aggressively press a pro-intellectual property, anti-video piracy agenda,” the company has historically been much more outspoken about federal issues like net neutrality and working around the Video Privacy Protection Act.
politics  Netflix  USA  PAC  business  internet  NetNeutrality 
april 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix to lose Starz, its most valuable source of new movies -
Premium cable network Starz Entertainment will end its deal to provide movies to Netflix, a surprise decision that will deprive the popular online video service of its most valuable source of recently released movies.

Analysts had said that if Starz were to renew its agreement, which expires in February 2012, it could have been worth as much as $300 million to John Malone's Liberty Media-owned network.

However, executives at Starz apparently concluded that they would lose even more money by giving consumers a reason to subscribe to Netflix instead of the cable channel.

"This decision is a result of our strategy to protect the premium nature of our brand by preserving the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content," Starz said in a statement Thursday. "With our current studio rights and growing original programming presence, the network is in an excellent position to evaluate new opportunities and expand its overall business."

Starz, which controls pay-cable rights to movies from Walt Disney Studios and Sony Pictures, signed its current agreement with Netflix in 2008. At that time, online video was watched by only a small number of tech-savvy young people and the estimated $30 million per year the cable network received was seen as new revenue that would have little impact on its traditional television business.
netflix  video  internet  politics 
february 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix reveals $9m legal payout
Netflix has paid $9m (£5.7m) dollars to settle a privacy-related legal action, a financial filing has revealed.

The online streaming firm, which made no admission of wrongdoing, said the settlement related to compliance with the Video Protection Privacy Act.

The 1998 US legislation prohibits the disclosure of video rental histories.

It is reported that the legal action concerned allegations that Netflix was failing to delete the viewing histories of customers who had left the service.
Netflix  legal  privacy  business  politics 
february 2012 by jtyost2
HBO to Netflix: We’re taking our ball & going home | VentureBeat
HBO is taking a giant step back from Netflix entirely; the cable network has stopped providing DVDs for Netflix’s rental service.

While Netflix can still get HBO DVDs and Bluray discs from other sources, it will no longer be able to get them directly from HBO at a discount.

HBO shows are not available on Netflix’s instant streaming service, either. In fact, while HBO subscribers can use mobile and over-the-top devices or web browsers to watch some HBO shows via the network’s HBO Go service, executives at the network have taken a strong position about streaming media and cable-cutting in general.

Back in November, HBO co-president Eric Kessler stated to industry leaders that HBO shows would not ever be available to non-HBO subscribers on digital platforms.

At that time, Kessler also said his company sees cable-cutting as no more than a temporary austerity measure that will cease as soon as the economy takes a turn for the better.

Kessler thinks HBO’s current model will succeed in the long run.
HBO  business  IPTV  television  netflix  politics 
january 2012 by jtyost2
Netflix Really, Really Doesn’t Want Your DVD Money
That’s Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, at the UBS media conference earlier this month, reiterating the point that Netflix has been making over and over again for some time: They want out of the DVD business , even though it is generating more than a $1 billion a year for them.

Hastings and his team are convinced that even though consumers say that discs are important to them, their usage data shows that few people… use them. “Old fogey discs “, Hastings calls them.

Netflix tried very hard to accelerate the decline of DVDs with the Qwikster fiasco . Since then it has been careful to tell its subscribers who are still paying for DVDs that it’s happy to have them around.

New subscribers are a different story, though. Netflix exclusively pushes its $8 a month, unlimited streaming option on its site and in its promotional materials. You have to work very hard to discover that the company still rents DVDs, and that’s by design.
netflix  media  business  technology  dvd  politics 
december 2011 by jtyost2
Bill Would Let Video Consumers Disclose All Their Choices -
IF Netflix has its way, Facebook members in the United States may soon be able to see which of their friends and family members have just video-streamed “Paranormal Activity” or “Boys Don’t Cry.”

Netflix is backing a bill in Congress that would amend the Video Privacy Protection Act, a 1988 law that requires a video services company to get a customer’s written consent when it seeks to disclose that client’s personal information, such as rental history. The new bill, passed by the House last Tuesday, would allow consumers to give one-time blanket consent online for a company to share their viewing habits continuously.

In a social networking ecosystem where sharing information about personal activities is already ubiquitous, the bill may seem to be a no-brainer. After all, Foursquare already shares its members’ locations. Spotify already shares the titles of songs its members are playing with their Facebook cohorts. And Facebook publishes links to articles that its members’ friends have read. So, Netflix executives argue, it’s high time for a bill that would give members of video services the same option to divulge their personal details.

“It really is meant to empower the consumer to be able to share with their friends,” says David Hyman, the general counsel of Netflix. He says the bill simply updates an outmoded law so that it matches the way we live now. “It really kind of levels the playing field in social media.”

But some privacy scholars and advocates are warning that the bill actually diminishes a person’s ability to select what to share — and with whom — on a case-by-case basis. If the Senate passes the bill as currently written, they say, the revised law would undermine consumers’ control over information collected about them even as it empowers companies to create and share more detailed customer profiles. Netflix isn’t lobbying for a mere amendment, they argue; it wants Congress to dismantle a gold standard among privacy statutes.

“They are not trying to modernize the law,” says Marc Rotenberg, executive director of the Electronic Privacy Information Center, a public interest research group in Washington. “They are trying to gut the law.” At stake, he argues, is not the ostensible sharing of a person’s video viewing history, but rather the larger issue of meaningful consent.

The Video Privacy Protection Act came about under unusual circumstances.

In 1987, the Washington City Paper, a weekly newspaper, published the video rental records of Judge Robert H. Bork, who at the time was a nominee to the Supreme Court. One of the paper’s reporters had obtained the records from Potomac Video, a local rental store. Judge Bork’s choice of movies — he rented a number of classic feature films starring Cary Grant — may have seemed innocuous.

But the disclosure of Judge Bork’s cultural consumption so alarmed Congress that it quickly passed a law giving individuals the power to consent to have their records shared. The statute, nicknamed the “Bork law,” also made video services companies liable for damages if they divulged consumers’ records outside the course of ordinary business.

To proponents of the new amendment, the law looks like a relic. Members of social networks today, they say, don’t want to be asked, each time they’ve watched another installment of “The Office,” whether that information can be shared with their friends.

People prefer frictionless sharing, a convenience hindered by the current law, says Christopher Wolf, a lawyer who is co-chairman of the Future of Privacy Forum, a Washington research group that receives financing from Google, Facebook and other digital media companies.

Moreover, Mr. Wolf says, the law restricts video services that seek to integrate with social networks like Facebook even as some music sites have already introduced sharing.

“Companies should not be exposed to hundreds of millions in damages just because particular hoops weren’t jumped through,” he says. “If people can share what they are listening to on Spotify, why shouldn’t they be able to share what videos they are watching?”

Still, video viewing remains a delicate area for many people because movie choices may open a window to a person’s religious or sexual preferences.

“Do you want your conservative friends to know that you watched a hyperviolent “Saw” movie or movies about the gay experience like ‘Brokeback Mountain’?” says Kevin Bankston, a senior staff lawyer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital civil rights group in San Francisco. “Do you want your liberal friends to know you watch an enormous amount of religious movies?”

Any amendment, he argues, should preserve a person’s ability to choose what to share, case by case, rather than ceding control by giving a general waiver to a company.

“You should have the option to decide what goes on your wall,” he says.

But Netflix argues that the marketplace should dictate consumers’ level of control. Mr. Hyman, Netflix’s general counsel, says the bill lets people opt in to continual sharing by giving their affirmative consent — or to choose not to share at all.

Netflix, he adds, has already introduced a feature for its subscribers in Canada and Latin America who want to share the movies and TV shows they watch with their friends on the video site and on Facebook. Netflix gives these subscribers a choice of opting out of sharing an individual film or show.

“If it is determined that consumers want more control over what they share on a granular basis,” Mr. Hyman says, “you will see that being offered as opposed to it being legislated.”

To advance its agenda, Netflix has increased its presence in Washington. It spent $325,000 on lobbying in the first three quarters of this year, versus $30,000 in the same period in 2009, according to a report from the Center for Responsive Politics, a research group that tracks political spending.

Last week, some legislators complained that proponents of the bill rushed it through the House without a hearing or a full-scale debate. The bill is likely to face tougher scrutiny in the Senate.

Privacy advocates say they expect Senator Al Franken, the Minnesota Democrat who is chairman of the privacy, technology and law subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to hold a hearing on the amendment early next year. And the Judiciary Committee, which has often opposed amending laws for the primary benefit of one company, may decide to strengthen the Bork law — by clarifying that it covers online video streaming, not just the old-fashioned rental of physical videos. (Hulu, a streaming video service, has already introduced a sharing option on Facebook.)

In an interview last week, Judge Bork, a distinguished fellow at the Hudson Institute, said he was glad Congress had remedied the unauthorized disclosure of video rental records with a law. But, he added, the amendment seemed to call for further public discussion.

“If you are going to enact change to a statute,” Judge Bork said, “you have to debate the question of whether the costs outweigh the benefits.”
netflix  privacy  legal  usa  politics  lobbyists  socialmedia  socialnetwork 
december 2011 by jtyost2
Kindle Fire: Yep, it'll have Netflix, Pandora, and more | Crave - CNET
Don't worry kids--the Cat in the Hat and Monkey Preschool Lunchbox are among the apps that will be available for Kindle Fire from day one.
(Credit: Amazon)

Amazon wants to reassure consumers that its upcoming Kindle Fire tablet will run big-name apps like Netflix and Pandora.

The company sent out a release this morning dropping the names of the two big streaming-media apps, along with plenty of others that will be available for the Kindle Fire right out of the gate when it becomes available next week.

Barnes & Noble made a big deal out of its brand-new Nook Tablet's compatibility with Netflix and Pandora at its recent unveiling, apparently giving Amazon a bit of a complex.

Amazon did its best to one-up the Nook in today's release, rolling out the laundry list of Fire-friendly apps that will be available on day one, including "Netflix, Rhapsody, Pandora, Twitter, Comics by comiXology, Facebook, The Weather Channel and popular games from Zynga, EA, Gameloft, PopCap and Rovio."

Although Amazon has talked about having Netflix running on the Kindle Fire since the tablet's unveiling, it's been a little unclear how many of the multitude of apps in the Android Market will be made available through Amazon's own app store, which will be the primary way Kindle Fire users will get their apps.

"We started talking to app developers everywhere the day we introduced Kindle Fire, and the response has been overwhelming," Dave Limp, Amazon's Kindle VP, said in the statement.

Amazon now says "several thousand" Android apps will be available through the Amazon Appstore for Kindle Fire, considerably less than the hundreds of thousands of apps currently populating the Android Market. Of course, this could be a good thing, as much of what's offered there is pure garbage.

The Kindle Fire ships November 15, and Amazon is quick to repeat its elevator speech for the new slate, offering access to "more than 18 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, magazines, apps and games, as well as free storage in the Amazon Cloud, Whispersync for books and movies..." and yes, Fruit Ninja and Cut the Rope are included in that 18 million.  KindleFire  netflix  politics 
november 2011 by jtyost2
Netflix Warns of More Cancellations, Shares Drop -
Netflix Inc lost more customers than it anticipated in the third quarter and warned of still more defections to come, pushing its shares down 27 percent as the one-time Wall Street star grapples with the fallout from a price increase and other unpopular moves.

The top video rental company reported a better-than-expected 49 percent surge in third-quarter revenue to $822 million, surpassing Wall Street's target of about $812 million. It also beat expectations on earnings per share.

But investors -- mindful of how the company led by CEO Reed Hastings had driven away customers in recent months and damaged its credibility with a price rise and other high-profile stumbles -- focused on the fourth-quarter warning.

Netflix shares plummeted 27 percent to $86.70 in after-hours trading, about 70 percent below the high of just under $300 per share in July.

"The reason the stock is getting crushed is the trends just continue to deteriorate," Janney Montgomery Scott analyst Tony Wible said.

Netflix said it had lost more than 800,000 U.S. subscribers in the third quarter, more than the about 600,000 it had forecast in September. Total U.S. subscribers stood at 23.8 million.

Looking forward, the company said DVD subscriptions will "decline sharply this quarter" but total U.S. subscribers, which includes customers who pay for its online streaming service, will be "slightly up."

Netflix has been writing big checks to expand its streaming content so it can attract new subscribers and return to the red-hot growth it was once famous for. In 2012, content spending will "nearly double" from this year, the company said.

Netflix also forecast a loss for the first quarter of 2012 as it expands into Europe.
netflix  business  politics 
october 2011 by jtyost2
DVDs will be staying at
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.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.

We’re constantly improving our streaming selection. We’ve recently added hundreds of movies from Paramount, Sony, Universal, Fox, Warner Bros., Lionsgate, MGM and Miramax. Plus, in the last couple of weeks alone, we’ve added over 3,500 TV episodes from ABC, NBC, FOX, CBS, USA, E!, Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Discovery Channel, TLC, SyFy, A&E, History, and PBS.

We value our members, and we are committed to making Netflix the best place to get movies & TV shows.

Thank you.

netflix  movie  dvd  qwikster  politics 
october 2011 by jtyost2
BBC News - Netflix scraps plan to spin-off DVD deliveries
Netflix has abandoned plans to split off its DVD rental division into a separate business.

The online movie company told subscribers in September that it was spinning off its US disc delivery service and rebranding it as Qwikster.

Customers wishing to continue receiving DVDs and Blu Ray discs by post would have needed two separate accounts.

However, the firm's blog says it now accepts the move would have made things "more difficult".

As a result, members will be able to continue renting discs and streaming online films and television shows using a single Netflix password.

However, a July price rise will remain in place.

Chief executive Reed Hastings said: "There is a difference between moving quickly, which Netflix has done very well for years, and moving too fast, which is what we did in this case."
netflix  dvd  qwikster  business  communication  PublicRelations  politics 
october 2011 by jtyost2
Did Netflix screw up? I don’t think so. | Kibble
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings announced last week that the company would be splitting off their DVD rental service into a new business to be called Qwikster. Last time I checked their blog post on the subject, there were 27,183 comments. Approximately 27,181 of them were negative.

Wall Street didn’t approve of the move either, and the stock is now trading at less than half the price it was two months ago.

Even my own friends are sending me puzzled notes, wondering if the “wheels are coming off the cart”.

What can I say? They are all wrong.

Not only am I completely in support of what Netflix is doing, but I think it is one of the smartest, most disciplined and bravest moves I’ve ever seen.
netflix  business  Qwikster  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
Netflix Secures Streaming Deal With DreamWorks -
DreamWorks Animation, the company behind successful movie franchises like “Madagascar” and “Shrek,” said it had completed a deal to pump its films and television specials through Netflix, replacing a less lucrative pact with HBO.

The Netflix accord, which analysts estimate is worth $30 million per picture to DreamWorks over an unspecified period of years, is billed by the companies as the first time a major Hollywood supplier has chosen Web streaming over pay television.

It is also a bet by Jeffrey Katzenberg, the animation studio’s chief executive, that consumers in the near future will not distinguish between the two. “We are really starting to see a long-term road map of where the industry is headed,” Mr. Katzenberg said in an interview. “This is a game-changing deal.”

Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, added: “You’re seeing power moving back into the hands of content creators. When a company like DreamWorks ends a long-running pay TV deal — when a new buyer in the space steps up — that’s a really interesting landscape shift.”

The DreamWorks contract comes as Netflix is trying to navigate a dense thicket of challenges. Competition from the likes of Apple, Amazon and Vudu, a streaming service owned by Wal-Mart, is increasingly fierce; Dish Network, which plucked Blockbuster out of bankruptcy earlier this year, on Friday announced a Blockbuster-branded streaming and DVD-by-mail service.
netflix  business  DreamWorks  television  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
Netflix’s DVD business: Does Qwikster have a future? — Online Video News
Netflix announced in a blog post Sunday evening that its DVD-by-mail operations would soon be rebranded “Qwikster,” and that the service would be separated from the streaming service that the company has been pushing for the last several years. Doing so clearly grants some independence to the unit, and will help it to operate without dealing with fast-growing streaming business. But it also raises questions about the future viability of a standalone DVD-by-mail operation.

Netflix isn’t completely abandoning the new DVD business — at least, not yet. After all, Qwikster will have the same characteristic red envelope and the same legacy infrastructure and library supporting it. However, it seems clear that Netflix is creating a wall between the two businesses as a way to smartly manage its profits and losses, and to help Wall Street better value the separate operations.
netflix  business  internet  qwikster  dvd  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
An Explanation and Some Reflections
In hindsight, I slid into arrogance based upon past success. We have done very well for a long time by steadily improving our service, without doing much CEO communication. Inside Netflix I say, “Actions speak louder than words,” and we should just keep improving our service.

But now I see that given the huge changes we have been recently making, I should have personally given a full justification to our members of why we are separating DVD and streaming, and charging for both. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.

So here is what we are doing and why:

Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD, plus lots of TV series. We want to advertise the breadth of our incredible DVD offering so that as many people as possible know it still exists, and it is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection on DVD. DVD by mail may not last forever, but we want it to last as long as possible.

I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We feel we need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolve, without having to maintain compatibility with our DVD by mail service.

So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are becoming two quite different businesses, with very different cost structures, different benefits that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently. It’s hard for me to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary and best: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”.
netflix  business  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
BBC News - Netflix subscribers leaving after price rise
hares in US internet film streaming and DVD mail rental company Netflix have slumped by 19% after it confirmed that it was losing customers following a recent price rise.

Netflix said it would have 24 million US subscribers by the end of September, down from 25 million in July.

It follows after Netflix announced in July that it would be increasing the cost of its DVD service.

The move has raised the monthly bill of some of its users by 60% or $6 (£3.90).

Netflix chose to increase prices on the DVD side of its business as more and more of its customers had instead switched to streaming its available movies via the internet instead.

However, the rise has had an angry response.

Analyst Barton Crockett of Lazard Capital said the decision was a "rare, large and surprising misstep" by the company and its chief executive Reed Hastings.
netflix  business  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
Customers Aggrieved Over Revamped Pricing Are Deserting Netflix -
Some of Netflix’s popularity lies in its simplicity — in its ability to serve up films and TV shows and renew subscriptions automatically, without any thinking on the part of the customer.

Until now, that is.

A new pricing scheme is forcing Netflix’s 25 million customers to think about which service they want — access to online streams, access to DVDs by mail or both — and some have decided to rethink the monthly splurge entirely.

On Thursday, the company said that customers were canceling their subscriptions in greater numbers than it expected, about a million in total, causing a projected quarterly loss in customers for only the second time in its history. The company did not signal a shift in direction or a change its financial guidance for the quarter; still, its stock dropped almost 19 percent in heavy trading on Thursday, closing at $169.25 and worsening a season-long selling streak. In July, the stock peaked at $304.79.

The downward revision reflects the negative reaction to Netflix’s decision, announced in July and adopted this month, to separate its DVD-by-mail service from its faster-growing Internet streaming service. Before, DVD-by-mail was a $2 add-on for some streaming subscribers; now, each service now costs $8.
netflix  business  customerservice  userexperience  usability  television  politics 
september 2011 by jtyost2
The dumbest attack on the Netflix "free ride" you have ever read
I've just about managed to stuff all those gloopy spare bits of brain back into my skull, but it took a while. I blame Harold Ford Jr. and John Sununu, the ex-politicians now shilling for the ISP-backed Broadband for America, for blowing my mind. Their most recent op-ed, which takes shaky aim at Netflix, must be one of the dumbest such pieces I have ever read—and I have read a lot of them.

I would not absolutely swear that their Mercury News piece makes any coherent points, though vestigial traces of argument run through the post, going nowhere. The overriding idea is that Netflix must hand over wads of cash to Internet providers—$83 million a year being a nice round number.

Netflix didn't get where it is today by handing out $83 million checks to anyone who asks, but the argument—such as it is—says that we need a new payment scheme that's "socially responsible and fair." Translation: Netflix is a dirty freeloader that quite possibly reeks of marijuana smoke.

"The reality is that Netflix and similar services want a free ride on the networks built with more than $250 billion in design, engineering, manufacturing, construction and maintenance," says the op-ed, giving its angle away. That sweet Netflix cash needs to flow to the small cartel of broadband operators who aren't making any money are hugely profitable, so that they can keep building out their networks.

"But," I hear you asking, "doesn't Netflix somehow pay for its bandwidth already? And if not, how do I get a piece of that free Internet action?"
netflix  isp  internet  communication  technology  fcc  business  politics 
august 2011 by jtyost2
Netflix sued for lack of captions on streaming videos — Online Video News
CNN isn’t the only company being targeted by rights activists for lack of captions in its video streams; Netflix also is being taken to court over not providing accessible videos for the hearing impaired. In a lawsuit filed Thursday, the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) accused Netflix of violating the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) by not providing captions for most of its streaming videos.

According to the lawsuit, the ADA requires that all “places of entertainment” provide “full and equal enjoyment” for people with disabilities. The NAD seeks to classify Netflix’s streaming website and associated consumer electronics applications under those terms, making it in violation of Title III of the ADA.

The lawsuit was filed despite work Netflix has done over the last several years to add captions to its streaming titles. It first announced the availability of captions on a limited number of streaming titles last spring, but it has been slow going: In February, Netflix announced it had added captions to titles that account for about 30 percent of all streaming, with plans to expand to 80 percent by the end of the year.
netflix  legal  lawsuit  disabilities  AmericansWithDisabilitiesAct  video  internet  politics 
june 2011 by jtyost2
Netflix Helps People Cut Cable Cord, Report Says -
Was this just a move to be expected of a techie? Some have speculated that cutting the cable cord is simply a fad. But a new report issued on Wednesday suggests that if it is a fad, it’s one that’s moving into the mainstream.

The report, the result of a survey of 2,000 United States adult broadband users, found that people who use Netflix to stream Internet video to their televisions are twice as likely to cancel, or slim down, their cable television options as they were a year ago. The report comes from the Diffusion Group, a Dallas-based media research firm.

When the Diffusion Group surveyed Netflix members in 2010, they found that 16 percent of customers were planning to downgrade or cancel their cable television service. During the same survey this year, the number of customers planning to make that change had doubled to 32 percent.

The report also found that although the majority of those surveyed cited economic reasons and “the need to save money” as a rationale for canceling cable, 34 percent said a growing use of online video was the culprit, “two-thirds of which cite Netflix in particular as the primary perpetrator,” the report says.

Now, instead of having only the option to pay a cable company to deliver content, people have an array of choices and devices. Netflix clearly saw this trend coming, and over the past year has started offering its video content on mobile phones, tablets, computers, game consoles, or devices that hook up to a television, including Boxee and Apple TV. The company also began offering customers a streaming-only option late last year.
netflix  television  business  internet  communication  politics 
june 2011 by jtyost2
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