Will the Kindle Fire Help Amazon Take on Netflix? Content Will Decide

  • Amazon’s launch of the Kindle Fire tablet may have an impact on Netflix, since the new tablet will make it easier for users to watch streaming video content via Amazon.
  • “With its $199 price point the tablet could sell like crazy this Christmas,” reports Forbes. “Users will be encouraged to buy Amazon Prime in order to speed their Amazon purchases and Prime just happens to come complete with Amazon’s streaming video service.”
  • The decision for consumers between Amazon Prime and Netflix will likely be based on pricing and variety of content offerings.
  • Amazon Prime beats Netflix on price, set at $80 a year ($6.67 per month), while Netflix streaming costs $8 a month.
  • Netflix, however, has more variety of content with 51,000 titles currently available for streaming, compared to Amazon’s 11,000.
  • Amazon may soon be able to compete in this regard with added content from Fox and CBS deals. Netflix has similar deals with Fox and CBS and a new DreamWorks Animation deal, but it will lose movies from Sony and Disney with the loss of Starz.
  • Both companies may press Hollywood to license more content for streaming, but continuing to pay more for films could potentially break Netflix, while Amazon has other sources of revenue to cover costs.

Yahoo Hopes to Increase Net Traffic with More Original Programming

  • Yahoo will introduce a new lineup of original programming beginning in early October, reports Variety.
  • The eight short-form series will feature appearances from actors including Morgan Spurlock, Niecy Nash and Judy Greer.
  • Erin McPherson, VP and head of video at Yahoo, indicates this is the first phase in a planned increase for 2012 regarding originals hoping to “yield even bigger names, longer programs and maybe even scripted fare.”
  • “While Yahoo isn’t about to overtake Fox or CBS as those nets launch their fall schedules, the company will mix some traditional TV programming tactics with its own new-media savvy,” suggests the article.
  • Yahoo reportedly leveraged user metrics to determine what types of shows would sell and has plans to redesign its video platform to be more like Netflix and YouTube.
  • According to Variety: “Of the 47.3 million video streams Yahoo generated in July, its original series alone garnered 27 million — more than the 24.4 million Hulu scored in its entirety that month.”

New Direction: Apple Pulls The Plug on TV Rentals from iTunes

  • There has been a fair amount of recent press regarding changes to Apple’s TV rental offerings. Peter Kafka, reporting for The Wall Street Journal, writes: “Apple has completely removed customers’ ability to rent shows from iTunes; the remaining options are to buy individual episodes or in some cases a ‘Season Pass’ for a year’s worth of shows.”
  • Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr says people prefer buying TV shows instead of renting, which not surprisingly may be more in line with the needs of customers interested in Apple’s cloud initiatives. “iTunes in the Cloud lets customers download and watch their past TV purchases from their iOS devices, Apple TV, Mac or PC allowing them to enjoy their programming whenever and however they choose,” Neumayr said.
  • According to a Fox statement: “After carefully considering the results of the rental trial, it became clear that content ownership is a more attractive long-term value proposition both for iTunes customers and for our business. To further enhance the value of ownership, we are working with Apple to make content available within their new cloud-based service.”

Piracy Surge: Fox 8-Day Delay Draws Negative Consumer Response

  • Since Fox implemented its 8-day delay of content availability on Hulu, downloads from BitTorrent for shows such as “Hell’s Kitchen” and “MasterChef” have increased 114 percent and 189 percent, respectively. Others are watching Fox shows on video sites including YouTube.
  • Moreover, the situation is creating negative consumer reactions as consumers are forced to find content elsewhere.
  • “One of the main motivations for people to download and stream TV shows from unauthorized sources is availability,” reports TorrentFreak. “If fans can’t get a show through legal channels they turn to pirated alternatives.”
  • The post suggests that some consumers have indicated they will be returning to their DVRs and may even dust off their VCRs in response.

Flingo Sync Apps Provide the TV That Watches You

  • Flingo, a new San Francisco-based startup, says its technology can watch what you are viewing on TV and with your permission present you with relevant Web content.
  • “Any mobile app or Web page being used in front of your TV can ask our servers what is on right now,” says David Harrison, cofounder and CTO of Flingo. “For example, you could go to Google or IMDb and the page would already know what’s on the screen. Retailers like Amazon or Walmart might want to show you things to buy related to a show, like DVDs, or what people are wearing in it.”
  • Additionally, social sites such as Facebook or Twitter would be able to connect viewers to a TV show’s official page or stream.
  • A major TV manufacturer will build Flingo’s Sync Apps into their TVs, which will reportedly retail for less than $500.
  • Flingo has relationships with CBS, Fox and MTV.

Rise of the Planet of the Apes: Social Marketing Success?

  • Fox’s “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” has implemented a two-prong viral campaign designed by creative firm Mekanism to raise the film’s profile.
  • To accomplish this, Mekanism released a series of real ape videos online (with the intent of going viral) and targeted a group of 50 social media ‘influencers’ to help build buzz.
  • The efforts have so far been successful, but impressing the influencers is more challenging than a traditional media buy. “You have to really convince these guys to want to carry out your message,” explains Jason Harris, president and executive producer at Mekanism.
  • Tommy Means, Mekanism’s founder and director, adds that current audiences don’t recommend films to their friends because they like a certain brand. “It’s because they like their friends,” explains Means. Online communities tend to look to influencers because they consider them their ‘friends.’ “Our job then becomes to impress and wow the influencers,” he says.
  • Is this part of a larger trend? Will studios need to turn to YouTube stars and movie bloggers to promote new projects?

Disney in Discussions to Provide TV Everywhere-Type Authentication

  • Similar to the approach Fox announced last month, Disney is negotiating TV Anywhere deals for ABC-TV shows with distributors. Access would require authentication with a cable ID.
  • Fox provides next day access to viewers who log in with cable IDs, and makes others wait for eight days to view content on Fox.com or Hulu.
  • Disney already has deals with Time Warner Cable and Verizon FiOS to access ESPN content using a mobile app.
  • “Our overall approach…has been to make deals that increase revenue while at the same time protect and respect the channel distribution value that we see today,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. The company is looking to build authentication into future deals, which Iger explains would “allow access to our programming faster or in a more aggressive window if the customer is a multichannel subscriber.”

Hacker Group Anonymous Targets Apple Online Data

  • Apple has joined Sony and Fox News in the growing list of companies experiencing recent security breaches.
  • In what appears to be a warning salvo, 27 user names and encrypted passwords from an Apple website were reportedly posted online over the weekend along with a warning of future attacks from hacker group Anonymous.
  • The hacker group posted a list of data supposedly taken from an Apple Business Intelligence website. Apple has not commented on this.
  • Anonymous hacker group, which linked to this leak in a Twitter post, threatens that Apple could be a target of its attacks.
  • Anonymous is running “antisec,” an operation that threatens government, law enforcement and corporations.

Tablet Trends: Interact with Favorite TV Shows via the iPad

We recently reported on a number of new features and trends regarding media consumption via tablet PCs, especially since an onslaught of new iPad apps have been making headlines. One such potential trend may involve synchronized bonus content and interactive features related to live TV shows.

In February, Fox announced the availability of its free app for the series Bones, that enables access to a series of content add-ons while viewing the program live or via Fox.com, Hulu or DVR. Features include social media integration (users can comment with other fans and try to solve cases) and the ability to purchase songs played during the show from iTunes. The Fox launch follows the release of ABC’s iPad sync app for the hit drama series Grey’s Anatomy.

As content providers, perhaps we should be looking beyond complementary content for tablets, and consider what additional video approaches might leverage this growing platform. According to paidContent: “It’s interesting that so far the TV industry is treating tablets more as a sidecar for original programming on TV than a source of original content in its own right, as News Corp.‘s new The Daily is trying to do. Or perhaps sometime soon we’ll see a video-centric company try to evolve its product on the iPad the way News Corp. wants to do same for the news business.”

The paidContent article includes an interesting video promo for the free Grey’s Anatomy iPad app that features interactive components such as polls, quizzes, bonus content, and more.

Hulu Examines its Business Model: Online Cable Operator?

Internet TV pioneer Hulu is reportedly in discussions to transform its business model. Since its 2008 launch, Hulu has been one of the leaders in free online television delivery and web-video ad dollars.

The Wall Street Journal reports that Hulu’s three owners (NBC Universal, News Corp. and Disney) are concerned that free Web versions of their TV shows are cutting into their traditional business, and the three are at odds regarding how much of their content should be offered for free.

News Corp.’s Fox Broadcasting and Disney’s ABC are considering pulling some of their free content from Hulu (and selling more content to Hulu competitors), while Hulu management is discussing the idea of retooling Hulu as an online cable operator that would use the Web to provide live TV channels and video-on-demand content to customers. If they opt to move forward with such a plan, some form of Hulu’s free service would likely remain and it is possible Hulu Plus could be folded into the new service.

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