In ZimediaumPodcast 1 we discuss: New Facebook News Feed Coming March 7, Amazon Instant Video scores deal with Scripps Networks, Netflix House of Cards – Most-watched program on Netflix since launch, YouTube and Netflix eligible for Emmys, Yahoo changing work-from-home policy, Andrew Mason out at Groupon.
Zimedia’s Streaming Best Buys (price considered):
Streaming television services like Netflix and Hulu Plus are gaining momentum, moving along the adoption curve – working their way through the early majority – still years ahead of technological laggards.
Editor’s Note: This article first appeared on StateCollege.com in Tech Talk, a biweekly column by Eric Zimmett. Click here to view the original column. Eric Zimmett is a tech writer and small business consultant who works at StateCollege.com assisting businesses with how to navigate today’s difficult marketing and advertising landscape.
A Nielsen study revealed that about one-third of Americans have streamed a TV show or movie through a paid subscription service like Netflix or Hulu Plus. And a majority of Netflix users have the service connected to their TVs.
Streaming TV is the biggest threat to the pay-TV model since TiVo, poised to make prime-time television irrelevant and turn the pay-TV model upside down.
Two years ago this month I cut cable and moved into the streaming TV world. Which at first was a bit rocky, but is now a more intuitive TV experience than ever.
With Netflix and Hulu Plus, when I want to watch a particular show, I watch the show. Whether it’s 7 p.m., 9:36 p.m. or 2 a.m. The Colbert Report; Saturday Night Live; Lie to Me; 30 Rock; Weeds; American Pickers; MasterChef; Mad Men; The Office; SportsCenter and ESPN on Xbox 360; or even NBC News, CBS, ABC on Roku Newscaster.
As well as older TV shows like Arrested Development, a new favorite of mine even though the show concluded in 2006. I had never seen it. But with streaming TV, I started with season 1, episode 1 to the last. Netflix announced in November that it is resurrecting Arrested Development in an exclusive deal featuring new episodes of the critically acclaimed series, which was canceled by Fox.
Streaming, on-demand, content increases the shelf-life of television, therefore increasing the benefit to the show and its advertisers. What this means: more viewers for the content and the advertising. An almost unlimited shelf-life. Streaming TV puts the entire television experience – Movies, News, Sports, TV shows – on the user’s schedule, not the network’s. It’s like everything has been TiVo’d for you.
TiVo released data that revealed only 38 percent of viewing by its users was live TV. The rest was recorded video and online streaming content like Netflix, which is now available through the TiVo Premiere box. It won’t be long before streaming content overtakes recorded content, like the two have done to live TV.
Most Netflix and Hulu Plus users are between the ages of 18-34 – dubbed Generation C – according to the Nielson study released in February. The second largest group is users between 35 and 49, then 50 to 64. Which mirrors the adoption curve developed by Joe M. Bohlen, George M. Beal and Everett M. Rogers at Iowa State University in the 1950s. The curve illustrates the adoption of new products and innovations through five stages: Innovators, Early Adopters, Early Majority, Late Majority, Laggards.
Netflix has more than 20,000 titles available to stream instantly and is working to increase its number of television shows, an area in which Hulu excels. Hulu is jointly owned by Comcast’s NBC Universal, The Walt Disney Co., News Corp. and global private equity investment first Providence Equity Partners.
Netflix has inked exclusive content deals including Lilyhammer, which debuted Feb. 6, featuring Sopranos star Steven Van Zandt. Horror series Hemlock Grove, scheduled for early 2013. Orange is the New Black, a comedy project from Weeds creator Jenji Kohan. As well as House of Cards starring Kevin Spacey. To acquire House of Cards, Netflix outbid HBO for the series.
And now dozens of devices are available to stream content, including Blu-ray players; video-game systems like Xbox 360, Playstation 3 and Wii; Boxee Box; Apple TV; Google TV; TiVo Premiere; and Roku. Read my review of the Roku streaming player here. In most cases, users buy the streaming boxes; versus renting a box from cable or satellite TV companies.
Subscription streaming services like Netflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon Instant Video provide unlimited streaming content for a fixed monthly price. Some cable companies have now started to offer their own streaming content as a companion to subscription offerings, like Time Warner On-Demand, Comcast On-Demand alongside a subscription to their services; or premium cable like HBO GO and Showtime On-Demand. Strictly video-on-demand (VOD) services like Vudu are essentially today’s Pay-Per-View, with each movie available to rent or purchase.
This doesn’t mean an end to live TV content, however. Live TV will be delivered through the Internet and available on-demand after it airs.
Comcast, the largest cable operator, announced in May of 2011 it would begin testing IPTV or Internet Protocol TV. The same content, only, delivered through the Internet.
Comcast began testing IPTV at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and in February introduced XFINITY Streampix, a Netflix-like video service offered as a companion to XFINITY TV.
IPTV can be used for live video, streaming and delayed programming like a DVR. The same technology used by Netflix, Hulu Plus, Roku, live-streaming services like U-Stream and Live Stream.
What IPTV will one day mean for advertisers: data. Think Google Analytics for TV.
The writing is on the wall.
Netflix and its competitors will force cable, satellite and premium cable companies to overhaul the formula and their pricing structure. Turning the entire landscape upside down. Lower prices, more content, delivered IPTV-style.
It’s a monumental time for TV. If cable and satellite TV are scared now, this could very well be the calm before the storm. They’ll be forced to change or fall into obscurity. Like a stagnant MySpace, ignorant to the startup that would become Facebook.
Streaming content has transformed the way I watch TV and will soon change TV forever.
The cable and satellite networks can fight all they want. TV 2.0 is coming. Their efforts are only delaying the inevitable.
While Netflix was busy battling HBO over exclusive content and providing an increasingly valid reason to cut the cable-cord, Sony’s Crackle just kept building.
Adding content, signing advertisers and launching on an array of devices including Xbox 360, Roku, Sony Blu-ray players, Sony Internet-connected TVs, Android, iPhone, iPad and more.
Its time out of the spotlight paid off. Now it’s clear that Crackle, which launched in the summer of 2007, is a contender.
Opting for an ad-supported model — the lifeblood of terrestrial radio — Crackle is free on all devices. It’s a proven formula: Free service = more users. More users = more ad dollars. Great method for generating revenue and users.
Other ad-supported services: Terrestrial radio and now Pandora and Slacker, Facebook and websites (see those banner ads? They’re paying the bills.) All ad-supported.
Crackle’s fresh content and smooth interface makes it feel like mini-Netflix. Hundreds of movies, clips and made-for-TV content. Plus the only place away from DVD you’ll find Seinfeld, which features 10 new episodes episodes each month.
Movies, Clips and TV like Spider Man 3, Ghostbusters, 21, Pineapple Express, Year One, Talladega Nights, Cruel Intentions, Passengers, Joe Dirt, Vacancy, Stranger than Fiction, 8MM, Basic Instinct 2, TV shows like Seinfeld and News Radio.
Crackle reports nearly 300 movies. More than 100 TV shoes and around 50 original TV shows featuring made-for-Crackle content.
Sure the library’s not as vast as Netflix or even Amazon Instant Video, but it’s free and available on a growing number of devices.
Crackle is mysteriosly absent from PlayStation 3, even though Crackle itself is a Sony service. Crackle lists that it’s available on PS3, though only through the PlayStation web browser. It’s not currently available on PS3 in app-form.
Venture Beat reported today, however, that Sony is preparing to announce a new video service for PS3. Rumored to involve Internet channels or apps. (An idea we suggested more than a year ago.) The new service would likely include Crackle.
Some devices as of late now require the Crackle user to login with a username and passord. Which tells me Sony wants a more accurate count of users and active users for advertising.
Like Netflix or Hulu, Crackle users can add content to a queue or choose to subscribe to TV shows.
And its mobile and iPad versions are smooth and attractive.
Crackle’s almost ready for the big leagues. And its timing is near-perfect. Though it’s entering a crowded marketplace, not one has presented itself as a real Netflix competitor.
And I wouldn’t count anyone out.
Mobile is looking like Web 3.0 with the emergence of mobile devices like the iPad, Kindle and Nook; the rise in smartphone usage; and the explosion of mobile apps. It’s not just for work. Mobile is taking over our lives. Work and play.
We’ve compiled the Top Five tools for Mobile Productivity, from the workplace to strictly entertainment.
Top Five tools for Mobile Productivity
1. Cloud Drives
Storage & Music
Standalone Cloud storage services like Dropbox receive most of the press. But Amazon’s variety comes with a music store.
Amazon is also a great place to store your music. Music purchases from the Amazon mp3 store can be saved directly to your cloud. And thus can be accessed anywhere and with a growing number of devices including smartphones and tablets. Start off with 5 GB of free storage. Just sign in, sign up for your free 5 GB and start uploading files for backup, storage or to listen to your tunes without taking up space on your mobile device.
Hundreds of companies trust Amazon Web Services for their storage and hosting needs, including Netflix — which accounts for 25% of US Internet traffic — Yelp, Foursquare, PBS, Washington Post, Razorfish, SEGA, Urbanspoon, Tweet Deck, Airbnb, Harvard Medical School, NASA, Virgin Atlantic and more.
2. Google Apps
Calendar & Google Docs
It’s time to move on from Outlook, people. Google is the place to be. When I use Outlook for email or the calendar, it feels like I’m navigating a rotary phone…plus it’s tied to a machine. Google Calendar and Docs, as well as gmail, is tied to nothing; it’s all on the cloud. Access all of it on any computer, any smartphone, tablet or mobile device. Get calendar reminders on your smartphone.
With Google Apps (formerly Google Docs) user can save Documents, open Office products like Word and Excel — with or without Microsoft Office. When you save documents in the cloud — like resumes, presentations, pictures — they’re always with you.
Google’s smartphone apps — and native integration with most mobile devices — make all of your documents, calendar appointments and messages accessible anywhere with an Internet connection. Save documents, presentations or pictures as a backup or for instant access on any of your devices.
To get started, just sign up for gmail and click “Documents” at the top. [Note: if by the time of this post, Google has changed its navigation bar to a drop-down menu, just click the drop-down and find Documents.] Then start uploading files or Create a new document.
3. Smartphone Apps
There’s an app for that. It’s not just a saying. There really is an app for everything. News, Shopping, Books, Movies, TV, Social Networking, Checking in and just about anything else you can think of. Some of Tech Weekly’s favorites free apps for productivity and entertainment on the go:
- Pulse News Reader – News from all around the web in one place
- QwickMark QR Code Reader – Scan QR codes with this free app
- ShopSavvy – Scan product bar codes to compare prices online and stores near you
- Netflix* – all of Netflix instant streaming on your smartphone
- Crackle by Sony – Free movies and TV on your smartphone
- NFL Mobile – NFL News, Highlights and Live Streaming video
- Amazon – Browse and buy everything Amazon on your smartphone
- Amazon Kindle – Kindle’s library at your fingertips
- Amazon mp3 – Listen to your library of songs from Amazon’s cloud drive
- Slacker – Slacker Personal Radio on your smartphone
- Foursquare – Check in to earn points, become mayor and unlock specials
- Twitter – Follow your interests or tweet on the go with Twitter’s mobile app
- Facebook – Update your status, check the newsfeed, check in or chat with friends
- Shazam – Can’t name that song on the radio, just click Shazam and it’ll tell you
- Flickr – Take photos and upload them to Yahoo’s Flickr
- Yelp – Check reviews or find a new place to eat with Yelp’s smartphone app
MyFax makes having a fax machine unnecessary. In fact, MyFax improves upon the old-school fax and then some.
No download necessary, just sign up for a MyFax account and you’ll be assigned a MyFax number. (You can pick the area code.) Once you’ve signed in, just click “Send a Fax.” Then enter the recipient’s fax number and attach the document you’d like to fax. Either scan the page to your computer and attach to the MyFax interface OR if the file is already on your computer, just attach. MyFax comes with some cool features including Cover Page Style; Status Flag for Urgent, Review, Comment, etc; and a Message Box. The recipient receives the fax in his/her fax machine, just like a normal fax.
Receive faxes right in your MyFax inbox as PDF or JPEG files. MyFax alerts you immediately via email. In fact, you can view the fax in your email inbox. If you’ve got email on your smartphone, you can view the fax right there. MyFax is a must for mobile work.
Send 100 faxes per month and receive 200 for only $10. Other options include Send 200, Receive 200 for $20. Or Send 400, Receive 400 for $40. Or an unlisted option of Send 50, Receive 50 for $5 per month. The plans can be changed at any time, though you’ll have to call MyFax to do it. Ironically, for an online fax service, you can’t change plans online. Though email is taking over, many businesses still fax documents. So ditch the fax machine and extra phone line and give MyFax a look.
Netflix is the best thing to come to TV since color. It’s move to mobile only strengthens its hold on streaming movies and television content. And once you’ve got a Netflix subscription, it’s free on an unlimited number of devices. Use your one Netflix subscription on TVs, tablets, smartphones, etc. At home and on the road.
Until you’ve streamed Netflix content on a mobile device, it’s difficult to understand. A library of more than 20,000 titles available instantly with the tap of your finger. It’s as close to a dream as you’ll get.
To get started, just sign up for Netflix (streaming subscription starts at $7.99 per month after 1-month free trial) and download the Netflix app for your smartphone or mobile device. You’ll only have to sign in the first time after you download the app. From there on out it’s blue skies and smooth streaming.
Netflix is available on more than 700 devices including PCs; Macs; Internet-connected TVs; video-game consoles; Blu-ray players; Internet video players like Roku and Boxee; iPhone; iPad; Apple TV as well as Android and Windows devices…and more.