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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Now six years old, Microsoft’s Xbox 360 is a veteran entertainment powerhouse, combining high-def gaming, hands-free control with Kinect, Internet video from Netflix and Hulu Plus and live streaming video from ESPN.
What more can you ask for from an aging console? Well, how about Live TV integration and Skype?
LIVE TV COMING TO XBOX this FALL:
Microsoft announced on June 6, 2011 that Live TV is coming to Xbox 360 this fall via Xbox Live. Head of Xbox Live Mark Whitten failed to give concrete details on Live TV but in an interview with The Seattle Times, Microsoft’s vice president of global marketing Mike Delman shed a little more light on the service.
“It will be tied to either a satellite broadcast company or a cable company. So in international markets, you’ll just have one provider. In the U.S., it will be bifurcated by region, by market. You’ll be a Comcast guy [in Seattle], for example,” Delman told The Seattle Times.
Other soon-to-appear features were unveiled at E3. In addition to Live TV, Xbox is getting YouTube, Bing and complete voice control through Kinect.
Xbox Kinect was introduced in Q4 2010. Since its inception, Kinect has helped push Xbox 360 sales and offer a new way to game, to control and to experience living-room entertainment.
According to Reuters, Kinect has sold 10 million units since its launch last fall, becoming the fastest-selling consumer electronics device. The motion device allows users to control Kinect-compatible games and applications via gesture and voice commands, completely controller-free.
“You no longer have to navigate through the menus to find content,” Whitten said of Kinect at E3.
According to CNET’s Erica Ogg, when Bing is introduced, users will be able to use its search function to find more content to watch by searching the web, YouTube, Live TV and all the services on Xbox Live including existing services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. The Kinect’s voice control will also allow users to search for content with voice commands.
Microsoft Acquires Skype
Skype is coming to Xbox 360’s console via Xbox Live after Micrsoft’s $8.5 billion acquisition of Skype in May. The pairing of Kinect and Skype makes perfect sense, and moves Microsoft’s Xbox to another area of our lives: business and communication.
“Skype is a phenomenal service that is loved by millions of people around the world,” Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said in a statement. “Together we will create the future of real-time communications so people can easily stay connected to family, friends, clients and colleagues anywhere in the world.”
Microsoft’s acquisition of Skype must still reportedly receive regulatory antitrust approvals before the deal is finalized.
Xbox Live is the center of it all
Behind every announcement, every acquisition and every new feature is Xbox Live. Microsoft clearly has big plans for its Xbox Live service.
According to WinRumors.com, Xbox Live will be built into Windows 8, Microsoft’s next operating system. The service was recently introduced on Microsoft’s Windows phone.
“Live has been successful on the Windows Phone. Live will be built into the PC,” Microsoft’s vice president of global marketing Mike Delman told The Seattle Times. “It will be the service where you get your entertainment.”
A subscription is required to access Xbox Live and its growing list of services. Namely, Netflix, Hulu Plus, Live and On-demand video content from ESPN and some of the best streaming news content available anywhere with NBC News.
NBC News on Xbox Live
With the NBC News channel on Xbox Live, users have on-demand access to today’s news in a variety of categories, most of which contain 15 clips from the most-recent episodes or topics.
NBC News Content:
NBC News on Xbox Live offers on-demand, up-to-date news content, allowing users to pause, fast-forward and rewind commercial-free news content. It’s by far some of the best streaming news around, second only to Roku’s Newscaster.
I’ve told you before that if I had to pick one streaming box it’d be Roku. I still feel that way. But if I had to pick one gaming system, it would be Xbox 360. Apparently I’m not alone.
Xbox 360 sales on the rise
In the console’s sixth year on the market, Xbox 360 sales continue to increase at an unprecedented rate.
We may one day look back on 2011 as the year that video game systems became more than a simple toy. Microsoft has successfully launched and maintained a true home-entertainment hub. Games. Video. Kinect. Search. Live Streaming Video. And now Skype.
Xbox 360 has far surpassed the normal shelf-life of video-game systems. And with sales still on the rise, Microsoft seems to have the game figured out: Innovation. With Kinect and streaming video from Netflix, Hulu Plus, ESPN and NBC News, Microsoft is not only following the movement; it’s leading it.
Source: CNet, Reuters, Xbox, WinRumors, The Seattle Times, Gamespy.com, All Things Digital, Digital Trends, Mashable, Fast Company
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
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.