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.
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.
Netflix gets all the hype when it comes to cable-killing Internet video, but Internet superchannel Ustream might be a better model for the next online cable network.
Founded in 2007, Ustream offers an array of shows, both live and recorded, as well as Internet channels from some of our favorite brands and celebrities. The company has offices Los Angeles, Tokyo and Budapest. Ustream Asia launched in 2010.
From CBS and TMZ to more specific interests like Campaign 2012 — or genre-specific channels like TechCrunch or Leo Leporte Live, a technology-focused show by popular tech reporter Leo Leporte of Tech TV fame — Ustream has a channel for every interest.
Ustream offers 12 categories on the dashboard including On Air — happening Live — News, Campaign 2012, Pets & Animals, Entertainment, Sports, Music, Tech, Gaming, Education, Spirituality and More.
Each category lists available channels. The Tech Category for example — one of my favorites — displays featured channels as well as Live channels In the below screenshot you’ll see three featured channels: Leo Leporte Live, Android Central as well as Space Vid Cast. NASA also offers a Ustream channels.
Ustream’s categories and channels are like networks and shows on a typical cable network. In fact, many popular network broadcasts, like the 2011 Emmy Awards, are simulcast on Ustream. After a show broadcasts live on Ustream, content can be archived. Though not all live shows offer this feature.
Users can view the channels live, view recorded programs or click “Join Crowd” which essentially adds the channel to the user’s favorites.
Ustream’s Mission: “to bring people together around shared interests for amazing live, interactive experiences that build and maintain relationships” (Ustream.tv/about).
When streaming on a computer, users can communicate with both the show and other Ustreamers during a live stream. Some televisions are now incorporating a Twitter feed to foster interactivity through social media.
On Ustream, social media interactivity is intrinsic to its design. On pay-TV — not distributed through an Internet connection — social media can seem forced or out of place. Flip on ESPN on DirecTV for five minutes and see how many times they drop “Twitter.” It feels forced almost every time. When video content is distributed via the Internet –whether on a computer or on a television — social media chatter is second nature; it’s a part of the experience. And the possibilities for advertisers are obvious. Purchases and more information are only one click away.
It’s tie-in with social media like Facebook and Twitter also allows for instantaneous updates on what’s streaming Live and what’s upcoming.
Users can get in on the fun, too, as Ustream allows anyone to start an Internet channel and “Go Live!” by broadcasting via webcam. Even Anderson Cooper has a Ustream Channel.
Closing comments & my experience with Ustream
I’m kind of a newbie to Ustream. I first checked it out a year ago and added the channel to my Roku player, where it sat unused. But then last week, I dove right in when I spotted a post on the Facebook Newsfeed concerning F8. Ustream was offering a Live Broadcast complete with commentary from Leo Leporte. F8 is the Facebook Developers Conference, which brings together developers, entrepreneurs and innovators “who are building a more social web.”
Thanks to Ustream’s connectivity, I watched portions of F8 on three different devices. Started on my Droid smartphone, then switched to my TV via Roku, and finished up on my laptop on http:ustream.tv
In less than four years, Ustream has successfully incorporated everything pay-TV is still trying to perfect: content, connectivity — across an array of devices — and completely natural interactivity.