Zimedia’s Streaming Best Buys (price considered):
For companies, re-branding with a new logo or fresh look provides a sort of facelift. (Really takes years off their life.)
Some get over-the-top PR, other re-brands slide in under the radar.
Zimedia has compiled a list of popular re-brands in the last four years, roughly 2008 to present. For many, it’s the first re-design in years.
Is there a downside to all this brand surgery?
Subtle re-brands are my favorite. Maybe freshen up the colors or soften the edges. Minor stuff. In and out in less than an hour.
We all need to reinvent ourselves from time to time. Re-evaluate our image and our focus. Brands are no exception. But there’s value, too, in brand recognition. Years of building a brand through products, advertising and generations of customers. Only to change things up in the fear of becoming stale.
There’s something to be said about an old brand. It’s got character, and it’s often packed with emotion and memories. Well-built brands are more than just a logo. And a botched re-branding can really look bad.
It’s not as easy as it looks on TV.
Just ask GAP.
Swapping pay-TV for Internet streaming services like Netflix is the latest trend for tech savvy consumers looking to cut rising cable costs in a tough economy. But for those new to Internet TV with little or no knowledge of the streaming landscape, things might look a little confusing.
That’s why most haven’t taken the leap. Too many options. And no clear way to get started. What are the best services? Is Netflix the only option? How do I get the content to my TV? How many TVs can I connect it to? Does the video content get old? How often do they add new content?
For all of those questions and more, I’m happy to introduce the first edition of Getting Started. Getting Started with Internet TV.
What you’ll need:
1. A streaming service.
Netflix is the top dog in on-demand movies for $7.99 per month for unlimited streaming (and no DVDs by mail). Netflix is also rapidly increasing the number of television shows on its roster and has even signed a deal to bring House of Cards exclusively to Netflix, beating out other bids from HBO and others.
Hulu Plus is to TV shows what Netflix is to movies. Hulu Plus is also $7.99 per month. Beyond Netflix and Hulu Plus, the competition drops off. Among the next tier of performers is Amazon Instant Video ($79/year) that also includes free two-day shipping on Amazon.com; Ustream (free); Crackle (free), PlayOn ($5 per month); among others. Most subscriptions are month-by-month and can be canceled at any time.
Once you’ve selected which service you’ll use, go to the website and sign up online. Most services offer a trial period of either one week or one month. Once you’ve signed up, just jot down your username and password. We’ll need that later when we connect it to your TV.
2. High-speed Internet.
At least 3 megabits per second (abbreviated 3 Mbps). The faster the better. You can connect your device to your TV through an Ethernet cable or wirelessly through your home network. To set up a home network, you’ll need a wireless router. However streaming quality is better if the connection is hard-wired with the Ethernet cable.
3. A streaming device.
Hundreds of available devices are ready to connect your TV to Internet video. Take your pick. Blu-ray players; Video-game systems including Xbox 360; Playstation 3; Nintendo Wii; and streaming boxes like Roku, Boxee, D-Link, WD, Apple TV and hundreds more. Just check the box — or online — to ensure it connects to Netflix, Hulu Plus or other Internet channels.
Everything will be clearly labeled. If it’s not on the box, look online. Just make sure your selected streaming service is available on the device. If we want Netflix, we’re good to go with the Sony BDP-S570 Blu-ray player pictured below.
Most devices connect to at least Netflix and Hulu Plus. Some devices feature different channels, like Ustream or Crackle by Sony. Few channels are exclusive. Some TV sets also come with channels like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Crackle built-in. As well as Blu-ray players. Purchasing a Blu-ray player that connects to Netflix or Hulu Plus is a great way to bring high-quality Blu-ray content into your home as well as thousands of on-demand offerings.
Hooking it up
A step-by-step guide
1. Connect device to your TV.
HDMI is best but some devices allow RCA connection for older television sets. After the device is hooked up, then it’s as simple as changing the video input like you would for a video-game system or DVD player.
2. Connect to the Internet.
Connect your device using either a wireless network or wired setup using an Ethernet cable. Connecting your device via Ethernet is the quickest way to get set up and also offers the highest quality streaming. Once the cable is connected to both your modem and your Streaming Device you’ll be connected. For a wireless connection, you’ll need to search for the wireless network and sign in.
3. Sign in to your account.
Launch your Streaming Device and select your desired streaming service, i.e. Netflix. Use the username and password you selected when you signed up online.
You’ll need to verify your device with your streaming subscription. You’ll be given a code that you’ll need to enter online to link the device and service. You’ll only need to do this once. It’s used to verify your subscription and link the device to your account.
You’ll be able to use your streaming account on any number of televisions; the subscription is not tied to any single TV. If you’re adding a box to another TV in your house, you’ll use the same login info. You’ll just have to verify each streaming device with your subscription using a new code, supplied when you launch the service for the first time on each TV.
You can also connect multiple accounts to your streaming device, i.e. Netflix and Hulu Plus.
4. Enjoy your content.
The most compelling difference between content on pay-TV and Internet TV is cost-vs-content. With pay-TV, you pay more for additional content; with Internet TV, you get increasingly more content for the same low monthly price. Netflix is signing new deals and bringing new content to its service on a monthly basis. Same goes for Hulu Plus. The rest are playing catch-up. Which is a win for the Internet TV consumer and the competing services. Increased competition will only expand the amount of programming and the quality of content deals.
For more on Internet TV, check out related posts below.
In six years, YouTube has become the hub of video content on the web, evolving from cat videos to live streaming news and now YouTube Movies. But from all indications, and the words of new CEO Salar Kamangar, this is only the beginning.
“Today, we’re going to start adding around 3,000 new movie titles for rent available to users in the U.S. that will be accompanied by reviews and behind-the-scenes movie extras,” CEO Salar Kamangar posted on the company’s blog on May 9, 2011.
YouTube Movies is today’s Pay-Per-View Channel. Its interface is much more google-esque than YouTube’s homepage and navigation is simple and intuitive.
Users can browse Featured titles at the top, browse by Category, or by Collection. Categories displays movies in a given genre: Action & Adventure, Comedy, Crime Drama, Family, etc.
YouTube has also created what it calls Collections. It’s essentially a Staff Picks selection like, say, “Vincent’s Picks” in a brick-and-mortar rental store.
YouTube displays the Top Movie Rentals in a vertical list to the right with the title’s current rank and whether it’s moving up or down the charts.
Pricing starts at $2.99 per title, others $3.99 and even some free titles. “Free” is also a browse-by-category selection.
From what I’ve seen, the selection compares more to Amazon Instant Video than anything else. By the numbers, Amazon Instant Video claims to have 5,000 titles including movies and TV shows. As I wrote in my post on Amazon in April, I’ve only been able to see about 3,000 (Maybe the others are lost in the Amazon Cloud?) YouTube announced it has “around 3,000 new movie titles.”
Note: in addition to Amazon’s pay-per-title, Amazon Instant Video offers unlimited streaming (as well as free two-day shipping) of the same titles for $79 per year, billed annually. For more on Amazon’s offerings, click here.
One step in competing with Netflix, it appears, is bringing Netflix talent to YouTube.
YouTube has been making some moves, recently hiring execs from Netflix and P&G.
Last year, Google grabbed Netflix vet Robert Kyncl to serve as VP of Content Partnerships. In April, Google’s YouTube picked up another Netflixer in Christian Kaiser, who served as Netflix engineering VP. According to Peter Kafka of All Things Digital, YouTube also brought in product director Thomas Purnell-Fisher, who will, per Kafka, work on “YouTube TV.” YouTube TV is available on Google TV and on any web browser.
Last week, YouTube nabbed Proctor & Gamble digital marketing director Lucas Watson to run sales for the site. According to Advertising Age, Watson was a key component to Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign.
“With Mr. Watson, the company gets an executive who has spearheaded a big increase in digital spending at the biggest ad spender in the U.S. and globally over the past three years…” wrote Advertising Age’s Jack Neff.
YouTube’s Town Hall Channel displays debate topics like Education, Budget, Energy, Economy, Health Care and more. With videos from both sides. After watching each debate topic, users can choose to support one side or the other.
Also available is the Leaderboard, which appears to be popular videos and topics. Users can also submit a question. Every month members of Congress will answer a selection of top-voted questions, according to the channel.
In July of 2007, YouTube and CNN hosted their first presidential debate featuring questions submitted by YouTube users. As noted by Fast Company, in the 2008 election cycle, 7 of the 16 presidential candidates used YouTube to announce their campaigns.
YouTube’s Town Hall Channel moves in on pay TV’s territory. But this is on the viewer’s schedule.
The show covers current events and pop culture, through the eyes of the Internet. It broadcasts live every Tuesday. The current week’s live show is available for replay one day after the episode airs.
“What’s Trending is a new kind of news show connecting you to the top stories and people heating up the conversation online around the world. Get connected and join the conversation around trending topics from global revolutions to entertainment and viral memes. It’s what you need to know to be in the now.” – CBS Channel on YouTube, What’s Trending
YouTube was launched in 2005 by three former PayPal employees: Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim.
In the year that followed, YouTube skyrocketed from a startup flickr-like service for videos to a video powerhouse that would be acquired by one of the biggest players in the digital world.
Two days after YouTube’s launch, Saturday Night Live aired music spoof video “Lazy Sunday.” The video made its way to YouTube, and in one week attracted nearly 2 million views. NBC later asked YouTube to remove the video.
Its first viral video hit came in April of 2006 with Judson Laipply’s “The Evolution of Dance.”
In October of 2006, YouTube was acquired by Google for $1.65 billion in an all-stock transactioin and now acts as a subsidiary of the big G.
Steve Chen and Chad Hurley discussed the acquisition in October of 2006 in a YouTube video.
Chad Hurley stepped down as YouTube’s CEO in November of 2010 and was replaced by Salar Kamangar. Kamangar previously served as vice president of Google’s web applications as well as VP of product management for Google’s advertisement and monetization process.
Today, more than 48 hours of video are uploaded to the site every minute, according to the company’s blog. YouTube generates 3 billion views per day. That’s a lot of eyeballs.
In March, YouTube announced it was acquiring Next New Networks, a web-video production company, in an effort to produce original, and higher quality, content.
A statement from Next New Networks CEO and Co-founder Fred Seibert: “Our company will become a core component of YouTube Next, a new team that will focus on super harging content creator development on YouTube, driving deeper expertise in partner audience development, and incubating new ideas that can be shared with the broader community.” –from nextnewnetworks.com.
If you’ve ever searched for a music video on YouTube, you’ll see Vevo is often the first search result. The Vevo Channel on YouTube is near the top for any music-related search. From John Mellencamp to Nicki Minaj. Vevo has its own standalone site on Vevo.com as well as a YouTube Channel.
According to TechCrunch, Vevo is the third-largest source for video on the web after only two years running — and it’s enjoying tens of millions in advertising revenue. Vevo’s advertising rate is comparable to broadcast TV with a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) north of $20 per Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch,
VEVO is a joint venture among Sony, Universal Music Group and Abu Dhabi Media. Google and Vevo share all advertising and sponsorship revenue. Though Google has no ownership stake in Vevo.
Vevo’s traffic grew 62% in its first year, from 2009 to 2010, in large part to its partnership with YouTube and its ability to get the Vevo videos to the viewers. In May, YouTube also unveiled the YouTube 100, a measurement of “song traffic across official music videos, user-uploaded videos and viral debuts, and uses this data to provide a holistic view of song popularity” according to the company blog.
“You’re finding more and more of the content you love on YouTube, which is now available on 350 million devices,” said CEO Salar Kamangar, speaking to YouTube users in the company blog.
I’m not sure where Kamangar came up with 350 million (maybe he made it up) but the adoption curve becomes a lot more manageable if whatever you’re pitching is available everywhere. Two companies that have taken advantage of connectivity in the last five years are music service Pandora and streaming-video juggernaut Netflix.
According to a published report from Advertising Age, more than 50 percent of Pandora listening is accomplished on devices other than the PC. Pandora is connected to seemingly everything, from smartphones, tablets and TVs to automobiles and…refrigerators? Yep, the fridge. The high-tech fridge connects to an array of web apps, including Google calendars.
Netflix has also enjoyed subscriber growth due in large part to how easy it is to get Netflix to a TV. Netflix is available on more than 200 devices including PCs, Macs, Internet-connected TVs, Blu-ray players, Internet-video players, Apple TV and Google TV, Apple’s iPad and iPod touch as well as all three current videogame consoles (Xbox 360, Wii and Playstation 3) and more. It’s recently begun rolling out a fully functioning Netflix app for smartphones including iPhone and Android.
YouTube is positioning itself to become a full-fledged TV Channel under recently crowned CEO Salar Kamangar. It’s set to challenge not only pay-TV cable and news networks but also live streaming services and other video-on-demand companies like Vudu and Blockbuster.
If it can successfully incorporate a premium unlimited streaming model — pitting itself against Netflix and Hulu Plus — YouTube could become the center of video activity across the board: on the Internet, on mobile devices and in our living rooms.
“By expanding our content partnerships worldwide and stimulating the success of budding filmmakers, artists and entrepreneurs, we’ll ensure that YouTube remains the best place for the world to see and discover rich talent. So stay tuned—there’s much more to come.” -CEO Salar Kamangar, YouTube blog
If Netflix is the poster child for streaming video — with a following of 20 million and counting — then Hulu is the forgotten variety.
In only its third year, Hulu is becoming quite the player and is holding ground in its mission to keep Netflix from taking over the (internet video) world.
In fact, its business model might even be more stable: ad-supported streaming of videos and TV shows. It’s a model that’s worked for media companies since, well, the dawn of media. From newspaper and magazine, to radio, to TV and now online.
Hulu’s CEO Jason Kilar projects revenue will double in 2011 to more than $500 million for all things Hulu: Hulu.com and Hulu Plus. Up from $240 million in 2010 and $108 million in 2009. Netflix clocked in at $2.16 billion in revenue in 2010 according to Netflix Q4 2010 financial statements. Up from $1.67 billion in revenue in 2009. And Netflix opts for ad-free content, for now at least. They’ve flip-flopped before.
Hulu is on pace to hit 1 million subscribers in 2011 according to CEO Jason Kilar. A quick calculation will show you how big of a role advertising revenue plays in Hulu’s structure. And how important it will be in its future. In addition, according to Brian Stelter of The New York Times, content providers receive some 50 to 70 percent of advertising revenue. In a similar fashion to pay TV; though from what I understand Hulu offers a higher percentage to its content providers.
As for Netflix, the company has yet to incorporate advertising on any level. Correction: Netflix has advertising on the inside flap of its DVD-by-mail sleeve.
In late January of this year, the nation’s largest cable TV company, Comcast, purchased NBC Universal from GE, which included stake in Hulu.
Hulu is now jointly owned by Comcast ‘s NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and global private equity investment first Providence Equity Partners. In the sale of NBC Universal to Comcast, GE had to relinquish its decision-making power and 32% stake of Hulu.
The NBC Universal-to-Comcast deal gave Comcast 51% control of NBC Universal, now labeled NBCUniversal (no space and no peacock). Previously, GE owned 80 percent. Prior to the sale, GE purchased the remaining 20 percent stake from Vivendi Universal. GE’s stake in NBCUniversal is now 49 percent, though according to USA Today the company plans to completely remove its shares over the next eight years.
The Justice Department and Federal Communications Commission included provisions in the deal that prevent Comcast from blocking NBC programming to other providers. As part of the deal, Comcast agreed to let NBC programming air on its rivals networks including Netflix.
Now that we got that legal jargon out of the way, let’s take a look at the content.
Hello, hulu. An overview of its services
Free on hulu.com with advertising in each episode. The Hulu Plus option offers an expanded library and brings it directly to your TV via a high-speed Internet connection.
Hulu, free for all on hulu.com, has more than 200 content providers including NBC, ABC, FOX, PBS, USA Network, Bravo, Fuel TV, FX, NFL Network, Speed, the Big Ten Network, Syfy, Style, Sundance, E!, G4, Versus, A&E, Oxygen and other online networks.
What you’ll find:
TV programming, some of which the day after it airs on pay TV. Previous seasons/episodes, webisodes and current programming including ABC News, ABC 20/20, Good Morning America, 30 Rock, American Dad, The Biggest Loser, Big Ten Icons, Big Ten Greatest Games, Bones, Bob’s Burgers, The Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity Rehab, Chuck, Colbert Report, Community, The Daily Show, Family Guy, Fora.tv, Fox News, Glee, Greek, House, How to Look Good Naked, Imus in the Morning, It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Jersey Shore, Kitchen Nightmares, Law & Order, Lie to Me, Lost, Master Chef, NFL Films Presents, Nightline from ABC, NOVA, Parks and Recreation, Project Runway, Rescue Me, Saturday Night Live, Super Nanny, Top Chef, Tosh.0, Wired Science…and a ton more.
Again, current seasons, some of which are available the day after they air on TV.
And this is the free version, which is only available on your computer. But if you want to go through the trouble, you could hook up your PC to your TV using an HDMI cable (OK?). Or if you’ve got an older set, Google “computer to tv cable” and you’ll see other options like s-video cables or VGA. HDMI offers the highest quality and is the easiest to use if your computer and TV have the capability.
Some episodes on hulu.com are only available for a short period of time. And the free hulu.com content doesn’t offer as much of the previous-season library of Netflix. But Hulu Plus comes a little closer, offering TV content sometimes from the first episode of season one to the most-recently aired episode in the current season.
Hulu Plus – for $7.99 per month – brings a lot to the table. Though Hulu Plus can stand on its own, it makes a perfect companion to Netflix and its breadth of on-demand content.
The same great content from Hulu.com, but a lot more including previous seasons and episodes as well as movies. Hulu Plus also connects it all to your TV, making it available with the click of a button (Once you’ve got everything set up, which is easy enough. All you’ll need is a Hulu-compatible device like a Blu-ray player, video-game system or other box. And a subscription to Hulu Plus for $7.99 per month. For a guide of compatible devices, click here. It’s a pdf.).
According to Hulu, its Plus offering provides access to more than 16,000 episodes from more than 400 current and classic shows. As well as the recent exclusive content from the Criterion Collection.
The biggest advantage of Hulu Plus over its competition (Netflix included) continues to be current episodes a day after they air. Current Content. A position Netflix had seemingly surrendered to Hulu until last week, when it announced that it’s buying the rights to “House of Cards,” a series starring Kevin Spacey. The show premieres late next year and will be available exclusively on Netflix for at least two seasons. This is big news for Netflix and Internet TV as a whole. It also goes against the company’s public stance only two months ago. Here’s a clip from a message to its shareholders on Jan. 26, 2011.
“Our primary strategy is to offer complete previous seasons of shows rather than offering those shows the day of, or a few days after, broadcast, during the critical ratings and revenue window. This is in the best interest of content owners and is consistent with our desire to offer a very low-cost service for consumers.” -Netflix in a message to shareholders Jan. 26, 2011.
More on Netflix and “House of Cards” in a future post.
Here’s the direct link to Hulu Plus content from Hulu.com/plus: http://www.hulu.com/plus#content
And here’s a fancy walk-through from hulu.com: http://www.hulu.com/watch/160617/hulu-walkthrough-what-is-hulu-plus
“The world is becoming increasingly mobile. And the brands and companies that move with that shift will prosper. While those that don’t will have to play catch-up.” ericsadblog.com Feb. 13, 2011
Hulu plus is also available on mobile devices including iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch. Hulu says “many more devices coming soon.” Android smartphones and are next according to the website.
In only its third year, Hulu is becoming quite the player and is holding ground in its mission to keep Netflix from taking over the (internet video) world.
Images courtesy of casualgadget.net, intomobile.com, obsessable.com, blastmagazine.com.
Source: USA Today, Netflix.com, Hulu.com, Reuters, New York Times, Boston.com
Netflix and Hulu Plus have both taken advantage of the internet connectivity of videogame systems — Sony’s Playstation 3, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 and the Nintendo Wii (still waiting on Hulu for Wii) — when it comes to streaming video content on our TV’s.
Of the current generation of systems, more than 162 million units have been sold. But neither is personally taking advantage of its online content or users.
Playstation has a subscription service, called “Playstation Plus” that offers game discounts, game demos and free offerings; but no streaming movies or tv episodes. There are options to purchase such episodes, like “A Colbert Christmas,” a special for the Holidays at $6.99. Colbert dubs it as the “Greatest Gift of All.” That’s about as VOD as it gets for PS3.
So Playstation obviously has a desire to attract monthly subscribers. That is the point to its Playstation Plus. One year will cost you $49.99, or you can try a three-month subscription for $17.99.
That works out to a little over $4 per month for the one-year plan. With both Netflix (for the streaming-only option) and Hulu Plus at $7.99 per month, if Sony were to include streaming videos its Playstation One membership, I’d have to believe more owners would take advantage.
[Vudu is a VOD service, acquired by Walmart in 2010. Vudu offers movie rentals, like an online version of a video-rental store. Today’s Pay-per-view. There is no subscription available. Vudu is also available through Playstation 3, Xbox 360 and Wii.]
To this point, Playstation, Xbox and Wii have been sitting on the sidelines, watching other services take advantage of their systems. Fight back, I say! Game on!
Xbox 360 has a subscription plan as well, two tiers actually, in the same price line as Playstation Plus. Xbox is doing a better job with streaming features, as part of their plan includes ESPN content, streamed to your TV. I have a Playstation 3 and a Wii in my household, but no Xbox. I also have a Sony Blu-ray Player. And my Roku Digital Video Player is on the way.
In addition to Movies and TV shows, these systems could offer rentals of their own games, possibly within the same subscription plan or on a tiered plan.
That would merge these two successful methods of video and game rentals: Netflix and Gamefly.
Gamefly is a game-rental service, currently available only by mail, no on demand. But the vidoegame systems are already capable of game downloads via the internet. You can purchase full games or game demos without a disc.
To be fair, Blockbuster recently announced a change to its by-mail rental service: they are now offering movies and games by mail.
If Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo are do this, the time is now. By implementing streaming video and/or Internet apps and possibly Games on Demand (GOD?) to boot, they’d have a great shot at competing with services like Netflix and Hulu Plus on their consoles, and could really take a chunk out of game services like Gamefly and Blockbuster.
As of the second quarter of 2010, Sony has sold 41.6 million Playstation 3 units. Xbox 360 tops out at 44.6 in the same time period. And Nintendo Wii, 75.9 million. For a grand video-game total (among PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii) of 162.1 million and counting…
Messages to Microsoft’s PR firm Waggener Edstrom were not returned by press time. Sony Computer Entertainment US R&D could not be reached for comment. And Nintendo Communications PR, well, didn’t answer our phone call.
Links of interest
Hulu Plus: http://www.hulu.com/plus
UPDATE: Amazon has announced that its Amazon Prime membership (a little over $3/month for free 2-day shipping) will now include a library of TV shows to stream to your TV.