Do American TV Viewers Prefer Streaming Over Transactional VOD?

  • Online video subscribers of Netflix and Amazon Prime paid almost $50 on average for video subscriptions during a recent six-month period.
  • According to new research from Parks Associates, subscribers spent less than half of that amount on a la carte video purchases.
  • The number of movie and TV show downloads declined 56 percent from 2009 to 2010, and movie rental downloads decreased 70 percent.
  • “Based on the reported usage of video download services by U.S. survey respondents in Q4, consumer spending on a la carte video during a six-month period ranged from $12 to $26,” reports Home Media Magazine. “Comparable spending on video services subscriptions during that same period reached at least $48 per household.”
  • “The all-you-can-eat-style subscription approach taken by Netflix has proven successful in the U.S. market,” Parks said in its report. “It has helped to drive up consumption — and spending — for online video.”
  • Netflix ended the most recent fiscal quarter with more than 25 million subscribers in North America.

Hulu Takes its Show on the Global Road with Streaming Service in Japan

  • In its first international venture, Hulu is launching its subscription service in Japan where it will offer hundreds of premium feature films and thousands of TV shows for $19.19/month.
  • The service will be accessible via select connected TVs and smartphones (Engadget reports that Panasonic Blu-ray players, Sony Blu-ray players and TVs, Xbox 360 and PS3 consoles and Android tablets are relegated to the “coming soon” list.)
  • Content will be provided from CBS, NBCUniversal, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Twentieth Century Fox, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros. Additional local market content will be added including Japanese-produced and other Asian content.
  • Hulu is also announcing an exclusive mobile marketing partnership with NTT Docomo. Details will be forthcoming.
  • A follow-up post from GigaOM yesterday outlines the differences between Hulu’s current U.S. offerings and its plans for the Japanese market, “that could give a hint at what Hulu might look like in the future.” So is there a “no ads, higher fees and more content suppliers” future for Hulu outside of Japan? If so, watch out Netflix!

MLB and Row 44 will Stream Live Games on Flights

  • In-flight entertainment provider Row 44 Inc. has announced a deal with MLB Advanced Media to provide live streams of more than 2,400 baseball games on Wi-Fi enabled devices on airlines.
  • The service will initially be made available to passengers on Southwest and Norwegian Air Shuttle flights.
  • “Southwest is currently in the process of wiring its entire fleet with Row 44’s in-flight broadband system,” reports the Los Angeles Times. “The carrier is offering the service for a introductory rate of $5.”
  • “The integration of live baseball games into Row 44’s in-flight broadband entertainment experience ensures our traveling fans won’t have to miss a pitch,” says Bob Bowman, chief executive of Major League Baseball Advanced Media.

MOG Offers More than 11 Million Streaming Songs for Boxee Users

  • Subscription online music service MOG has announced the availability of its new app for the Boxee Box by D-Link.
  • According to the press release: “MOG is the first on-demand music service providing unlimited music in high quality, 320 kbps, to be offered as a native app for Boxee. Listeners can now enjoy MOG’s HQ audio through this new living room offering, featuring a wireless remote keypad for quick searches of MOG’s 11.5-million song catalog on a user’s connected TV.”
  • You can test drive MOG free for 14 days, reports Engadget. After the trial period, you have a choice of the $4.99/month basic account or $9.99/month Primo account.
  • The Boxee Box costs $199.

iTunes Match: Supports Downloading AND Streaming from the Cloud

  • Apple’s iTunes Match went live to developers for testing this week and music “streaming” from the cloud is reportedly already up and running.
  • If the hype is accurate, the TechCrunch article header from Dennis Kuba’s story submission may prove telling: “With iTunes In The Cloud, Apple Under-Promises And Over-Delivers.”
  • Apple enthusiasts are excited to see what shakes out this fall with iOS 5 and iCloud. Yesterday, TechCrunch reported: “Tonight brought perhaps the biggest surprise revelation yet: iTunes in the Cloud will support streaming as well as downloading of music.”
  • There is also speculation that this announcement may lead to a possible “cloud iPhone.” Rumors are making the rounds that Apple might unveil a low-cost iPhone 4 (with minimal on-board storage) alongside its new iPhone 5 release. If iTunes has streaming functionality, the low-cost version of the iPhone could rely on the cloud for content.
  • Be sure to check out the iTunes Match videos included in the post.
  • TechCrunch recently added an update: “There’s some debate going on right now about whether or not this is technically streaming. Even Apple is avoiding the term, as Peter Kafka points out. There are two reasons for this — reasons Google follows as well with their service.”

Hollywood Suite: Will New Canadian VOD Service Compete with Netflix?

  • Hollywood Suite is a new video-on-demand service with plans to launch in Canada this November.
  • Available via cable, the Internet and satellite TV, the service will offer 450 titles per month in HD from MGM, Warner Bros. and others.
  • The Toronto-based platform will also feature independent action, romance and relationship films.
  • According to Home Media Magazine: “Movie titles, subscription fees and rental programs, which are expected to rival rates charged by Netflix, will be announced closer to launch date, according to industry veteran Jay Switzer, co-founder of Hollywood Suite.”
  • “These channels are designed to meet the strong audience demand for movies across all platforms and support Canada’s television service providers,” Switzer said.

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.

Elgato HDHomeRun App Provides Yet Another Streaming TV Solution

  • The HDHomeRun iPad app from Elgato paired with one of SiliconDust’s new HDHomeRun Prime CableCARD tuners allows users to play and record cable channels that are sent without encyption or are marked copy freely.
  • Currently, the $17.99 app is iPad-only and can only handle standard definition MPEG-2 channels. According to the press release, “The HDHomeRun PRIME App lets the user record programs directly to their iPad with the option of transferring those recordings from the iPad 2 to a Mac or PC.”
  • Engadget reports: “…in a market suddenly flooded by CableCARD tuners maybe this extra functionality is just what’s needed to tip the balance between one device or another.”
  • The post includes a brief video demo.

ESPN’s Billion-Plus Online Video Streams Now Powered by Ooyala

  • ESPN has selected Mountain View-based Ooyala to power the sports broadcaster’s streaming video content. The platform will replace a proprietary model administered by ESPN.
  • Ooyala’s platform will reportedly increase the quality of playback, reduce load times and streamline back-end management.
  • “It’s a serious feather in the cap and vote of confidence for the four-year-old video startup, as ESPN is one of the biggest producers of online video content, with 400 unique visitors hitting play on ESPN videos every second (and serving over 1 billion streams per month),” reports TechCrunch.
  • The media technology site sees the move as positive: “All in all, it’s great to see ESPN finally offering a quality player with fast load times and a more linear on demand experience in which video queues and layouts feel more akin to a television viewing experience — and can compete in ease of video use with YouTube.”

Rdio for iPad App: Streaming Music Better Than Spotify?

  • Rdio has released a free iPad version of its streaming music app. According to the Gizmodo review: “Spotify may be stealing all the hype and pub for streaming music services but let’s not kid around here, Rdio still makes the best music apps across any platform.”
  • The review raves about the app based largely on its selection, album art, social aspects and quality music player.
  • Users can listen via their iPad headphones or through other devices thanks to AirPlay support — a feature that particularly appeals to the staff at Gizmodo: “I always thought it was funny to use the iPad as your music player but when you think about it, Rdio + AirPlay + Big Honking Screen gives you the biggest remote control in the house for the best audio system in your house with all the streaming music not in your house.”
  • For a better look at the interface, the post includes a brief video demo.

American Airlines and Gogo Roll Out In-Flight Video Streaming

  • American Airlines announced it will roll out Gogo’s in-flight streaming video service to its entire fleet of 767 aircrafts.
  • The service wirelessly streams movies and TV shows from an in-flight library to Wi-Fi-enabled laptops (at $0.99 per TV show and $3.99 per movie).
  • The current slate of 100 movies and TV shows will remain accessible for viewing after the flight has concluded. Customers will have access to the movies for 24 hours and TV shows for 72 hours.
  • The TechCrunch post includes a video demo explaining the service.

Hulu to Debut its First Long-Form Original Production

  • Hulu will unveil an original documentary series on August 17. “A Day in the Life” is produced by documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock, and will be available exclusively on Hulu.
  • The half-hour show will follow the daily lives of celebrities, including business mogul Richard Branson and musician
  • Hulu is not the only online video site to venture into original programming. In March, Netflix announced an original series of its own: “House of Cards,” starring Kevin Spacey.
  • The series is Hulu’s largest and most ambitious original production, and will premiere as the service continues to court prospective buyers. Yahoo, Google, and Amazon are rumored to be potential bidders.

Rovi Claims Hulu Infringes on Electronic Program Guide Patent

  • Rovi Corporation filed suit against Hulu last week, claiming that the video site infringes on its patents for electronic program guides.
  • Santa Clara, California-based Rovi provides technology that powers streaming services from Blockbuster On Demand and Best Buy’s CinemaNow. The company also licenses its technology to others such as Apple, Microsoft and Comcast.
  • The digital entertainment solutions provider claims that Hulu’s infringement “presents significant and ongoing damages to Rovi’s business.” The company is seeking compensation for lost license revenue and treble damages.
  • As previously reported by ETCentric, Hulu has been offered for sale by its owners (Disney, News Corp., NBC Universal and Providence Equity).

Music Service Spotify Responds to Use of Tracking Cookie

  • Researchers at UC Berkeley have found that digital music service Spotify is using a cache cookie method with ETags that still tracks when a user has ‘Private Browsing Mode’ enabled.
  • According to Digital Music News, the cookie technology “cannot be deleted, still tracks if the user blocks cookies, and even operates in browser stealth mode. In fact, if you try to delete this thing, the cookie dynamically regenerates.”
  • The cookie is powered by analytics platform Kissmetrics, which Digital Music News explains was also used by Hulu and others.
  • Spotify is reacting quickly, trying to head off a “Cookiegate” incident. “We take the privacy of our users incredibly seriously and are concerned by this report,” explained a Spotify spokeswoman. “As a result, we have taken immediate action in suspending our use of Kissmetrics whilst the situation is investigated.”

Amazon Expands its Online Library with NBCUniversal Deal

  • Amazon has announced a deal with NBCUniversal to offer Universal films online, in a move designed to step up competition with services such as Netflix and Hulu.
  • Amazon offers subscribers to its “Prime” program discounts on shipping of products, and free access to an online library of films. The service costs $79 a year.
  • Amazon announced an agreement last week with CBS that expanded its library to more than 8,000 titles. The NBCUniversal deal will grow Amazon’s library to more than 9,000 movies and TV shows (compared to Neflix’s 20,000).
  • Films such as “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,” “Being John Malkovich,” and “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas” are part of the deal.