Amazon announced the arrival of 14 homegrown TV shows today as it looks to take on Netflix with original programming.
Amazon has done things slightly differently than its new rival Netflix. The firm has unleashed 14 pilot episodes on its website that can be streamed in the US for free and in the UK via Lovefilm. Users can give their feedback on the shows, and the most popular shows will be made into a full series.
From what we can see, Amazon seems to have a pilot show to suit all tastes. There’s a selection of kids shows including the brilliant sounding Teeny Tiny Dogs and Annebots, which apparently follows a pint-sized scientist around the world.
Technology fans might enthuse over the pilot of Betas, which follows the story of four friends who think they’ve cracked the code for Silicon Valley success, like the idea of Onion News Empire, a show about Onion News Network journalists who will do anything to stay on top.
Other pilot shows available to watch include Zombieland, Dark Minions and Alpha House, for those looking for something similar to Netflix’s popular House of Cards series.
Amazon’s scheme is great for budding TV critics, as once you have watched a pilot you can leave feedback on the Amazon website. We just hope the scheme doesn’t get overrun by trolls.
Amazon hasn’t said when we can expect some of these pilots to be turned into full series, or whether customers will have to pay to view them.
Verizon Wireless recently began publishing a list of “High Risk Android Apps” on its Web site and now alerts customers to 13 apps that prevent a smartphone or tablet from going into sleep mode, causing heavy battery and data usage.
“This page lists apps that may be especially risky for you to use at this time,” Verizon said in the post. The company noted that it is working with developers to fix the problems.
The high risk apps “might have serious negative effects on your device” through loss of functionality, unexpected high data or battery usage and security exposure, Verizon explained.
Six of the 13 high risk apps are also on the January’s list of Top 50 most popular Android apps that Verizon posts on another Web page along with a five-point system for judging security, battery consumption and data usage.
The six apps on both Verizon lists are games, mostly racing games.
They are: Asphalt 7: Heat, a paid racing game by Gameloft; Draw Something, a paid game by OMGPOP; Fruit Ninja Free, a free game by Halfbrick Studios; Grand Theft Auto III, a paid game by Rock Start Games; Hill Climb Racing, a free game by Fingersoft; Need for Speed: Most Wanted, a paid game by Rovio Mobile Ltd.; and Wreck It Ralph, a paid game by Disney.
The worst offender of the 13 on the high risk list is Need for Speed: Most Wanted, from Rovio Mobile Ltd., which Verizon says will drain a device battery about 4.5 times faster than normal if left untouched, Verizon noted.
None of the high risk apps are blocked for Verizon customers, but users are being educated to make their own decisions.
In a statement, the bookseller said the videos will be stored securely in the Nook Cloud. The content will be available on the Nook Tablet and non-Nook devices via free Nook video apps that will be launched soon, it said.
The announcement underscores the importance of video content to users of an array of new tablet devices.
Barnes & Noble said its video content will be available across devices such as TVs and smartphones and will interoperate with digital video collections, such as UltraViolet.
A Netflix app already is a available in the Nook app store.
Barnes & Noble said the videos initially will come from HBO, Sony Pictures, STARZ, Viacom and Warner Brothers Entertainment. Some Disney movies will be available.
The maker of the Nook tablet didn’t reveal any details about plans to unveil a rumored second-generation Nook device. Barnes & Noble’s tablet is considered a strong competitor with Amazon’s new Kindle Fire HD and Google’s Nexus 7 tablets.
Amazon already has an instant video service which can be linked to its Amazon Prime service that costs $79 a year for access to some videos.
Barnes & Noble didn’t offer pricing for the video content, but officials said videos would be priced individually and won’t be distributed under a subscription service.
Netflix reported that it extended its license agreement with ABC Television Group, a division of Disney, to continue to stream TV shows over the Internet.
With the extension of the existing license agreement, Netflix will also add new TV show episodes from ABC Studios, Disney Channel and the ABC Family to its existing library, it said in a statement.
Netflix will now also carry episodes of ABC’s “Switched at Birth”, “Alias” and prior-season episodes of Disney Channel’s animated series “Kick Buttowski”.
Netflix will continue to carry every episode of ABC shows such as “Lost”, “Ugly Betty”, “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Desperate Housewives”, and a number of programs from the Disney Channel.
Amazon announced a new licensing agreement with Disney-ABC Television Group that will allow Amazon Prime members to instantly stream a broad selection of library content from ABC Studios, Disney Channel, ABC Family and Marvel.
Amazon Prime costs $79 a year in the United States and gives members free 2-day shipping along with free access to almost 13,000 TV shows and movies from the company’s Internet streaming service.
According to a report on the Wall Street Journal’s All Things D blog, sources close to the deal say it could be completed by the end of the day.
Earlier this year, Disney acquired the media conglomerate UTV, which owned around half of Indiagames. One source placed the value of the company between $80 million and $100 million, meaning that Disney would need to pay up to $50 million to complete the deal.
Indiagames was founded in 1999, and now has more than 300 employees spread across its Mumbai, Beijing, London and Los Angeles offices.
In February, the Disney Interactive Media Group’s co-presidents John Pleasants and James Pitaro pledged to make the division profitable by 2013.
Since then, financial reports have shown consistent losses, leading to redundancies at social developer Three Melons and the closure of Black Rock Studios.
Both Disney and Indiagames CEO Vishal Gondal have declined to comment on the deal.
However, some analysts were unfazed by the move and were positive on the company’s prospects to secure alternative deals.
Starz, controlled by John Malone’s Liberty Media, ended talks to renew a deal that expires February 28. After that date, Starz will stop providing its content, which includes exclusive rights to first-run Sony Corp and Walt Disney Co movies, for streaming on Netflix.
Jefferies analyst Youssef Squali said while Starz will continue to hold the rights to Sony and Disney titles, Netflix could independently strike a deal with the production studios for streaming content.
“We believe Netflix has seen little overall pushback from subscribers since Sony content was pulled from the service more than 2 months ago in the related, but separate dispute between Sony and Starz,” Squali, who kept his rating and price target on the company’s stock, said.
Piper Jaffrey analyst Michael Olson said although the Starz provides a “larger” portion of new releases on the Netflix service, its share of overall streaming content has declined in the last two years.
“Since signing the Starz deal in 2008, Netflix has added TV content from many suppliers and movie content from EPIX, Relativity Media, Millennium, Miramax and others.”
“We believe Netflix will now look to increasingly acquire movie rights directly from studios, in competition with pay-TV offerings,” Olson said.
Blockbuster is seeking to persuade angry Netflix Inc customers to change their allegiances, after the fast-growing online video service provoked a storm of outrage this week by increasing prices as much as 60 percent.
Blockbuster, a once omnipresent video vendor that filed for bankruptcy protection in 2010 and is now owned by Dish Network Corp, said that a customer who switches to one of its “total access” plans to receive DVDs by mail will receive a 30-day free trial.
Shares of Netflix, which were trading lower since the start of the day, extended losses after the news and closed down 4.05 percent at $286.62 on the Nasdaq.
In a statement, Blockbuster called Netflix’s price increase “shocking” and said it would “rescue upset Netflix customers.” It also launched a new website around the promotion with a banner saying “Netflix customers, say hello to Blockbuster.”
In response, Netflix spokesman said its plans still offer better prices that Blockbuster’s service.
“I understand Blockbuster’s offer is for $9.99 for 1 DVD at a time. The same offer from Netflix is $7.99 a month. Why would someone change?”
Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said he doubts that a significant number of Netflix customers will defect to Blockbuster but that the news may have sent Netflix shares lower on Thursday.
“Today’s price action shows how Netflix is priced for perfection. Any chink in their armor makes the stock move,” he said.
Hulu Plus subscribers, who get access to some premium content, will be able to watch films like Pulp Fiction, Good Will Hunting and Scream, as part of the deal.
Hulu, jointly owned by Comcast, News Corp and Walt Disney Co, is a subscription service that offers streaming videos of TV shows and movies.
“Making our films available via premium digital distribution channels is extremely important to Miramax,” Mike Lang, CEO of Miramax, said in a statement.
No financial terms of the agreement were given.
Earlier in May, Miramax signed a similar deal with movie rental service Netflix Inc.
Miramax, which was a unit of Walt Disney until late last year, was sold to a consortium that included construction magnate Ron Tutor and investment firm Colony Capital LLC.
Want to be Internet TV provider Google is having its TV service constrained by big media companies that are refusing to provide content.
Unfortunately, Google is finally realizing that technology companies that develop IP TV distribution infrastructure are being blocked by the US television networks. According to Reuters, the company is in talks with three companies who at this time is refusing access to their content.
Disney and NBC have already said they are going to block content from Google’s web TV service. But Reuters’ source also alleged that Fox is having internal meetings about blocking its own broadcast content from Google TV, no real shame if that means fewer people can watch Fox News.
At this time it is understood that HBO had signed on the dotted line to offer its programs on Google TV. Turner Broadcasting has even optimized their websites for viewing on Google’s TV service. But the other big guns are afraid that the company will extend its advertising presence into the TV space, weaken their control over advertising customers and draw viewers away from their networks.
Whatever the big media companies do to withhold content, another avenue will always spring a leak. It has been reported this week that Google’s Youtube Leanback service was integrated into Google TV, delivering TV over the Internet. That means that anyone can upload NBC, Disney or Fox content that the owners have to spend hundreds of man hours trying to identify and order taken down. As soon Google removes the blocked content, someone else can upload a video.
Content providers are running around in circles because they can’t control the delivery mechanisms. That leaves most technological shifts constrained as content networks get wrapped up in legal quagmires of their own making. Earlier today Virgin Media’s TV on demand service was delayed because of legal wrangles with worried content partners.
In time big media will allow access to their content if they can make a nice profit off Google TV.
Maybe it hasn’t quite reached the ears of studio executives but most Americans are still holding tightly on the purse strings when it comes to non essential expenses. It’s probably also a safe bet to assume even fewer are willing to pay an outrageous fee of $30 all for the privilege of watching new movies from home. According to Bloomberg this hasn’t deterred Sony Pictures, Warner Bros and Disney from at least experimenting with such an idea.
The studios are considering launching a new service that would enable people to watch the latest films from home through their set-top boxes, Bloomberg reported. The films would be available long before they make it to DVD, Blu-ray, or on demand, the news service said.
For now, details on how the studios plan to bring films to home customers are quite minimal. According to Bloomberg, an unidentified Disney representative said the company plans to test it out with a single film early next year, and Warner Bros. is planning to test the idea later this year.
Time Warner Chief Financial Officer John Martin said at a Goldman Sachs conference in New York last week that Warner Bros. films could cost for $20 to $30 per viewing, Bloomberg reported. But paying up to $30 to watch a film one time could be a tall order for some consumers, especially since many are content to wait for a film’s release on physical disc or on demand.