Netflix Video Codec Study Finds x265 More Efficient Than VP9

After comparing 5,000 streaming clips from 500 titles using x264, x265, and libvpx codecs, Netflix found x265’s implementation of HEVC to be the most efficient while offering the highest quality. However, “whether that matters in light of compatibility and licensing issues isn’t so obvious,” notes Streaming Media. The study, which focused on VOD rather than live, compared codecs and not specifications (instead of comparing encoding specs, Netflix compared implementation of the specs). “Netflix’s tests clearly show that x265 is 20 percent more efficient than libvpx when encoding premium content using the most stringent settings, and measuring quality with VMAF.” Continue reading Netflix Video Codec Study Finds x265 More Efficient Than VP9

CBS Debuts Ad-Free Version of All Access Streaming Service

CBS has introduced an ad-free, $9.99 per month option for its All Access on-demand service. The new option eliminates nearly all advertising, except for promotional interruptions during select series. The original version of the service, with reduced commercials, costs $5.99 per month. “The addition of a commercial-free plan gives our subscribers even more ways to customize their CBS viewing experience — from which devices to whether they watch in or out of the home, and now with commercials or without,” said Marc DeBevoise, president and COO of CBS Interactive. Continue reading CBS Debuts Ad-Free Version of All Access Streaming Service

Netflix-Style Video-On-Demand Service Debuts in North Korea

North Korea has launched its own Netflix-like streaming service called Manbang (“everywhere” or “every direction”), although the content and availability is limited. According to Digital Trends, Manbang offers “citizens in three cities, including the capital Pyongyang, access to five streamed channels alongside a selection of on-demand content.” The service’s set-top box also streams state-approved newspaper articles, documentaries about Kim Jong-un and the leadership, and English and Russian language lessons. The box enables “viewers to search for programs by typing in the title, or by browsing through categories, offering similar functionality to Netflix in the United States,” notes NK News. Continue reading Netflix-Style Video-On-Demand Service Debuts in North Korea

Turner Tests New Ad Countdown Clock with ‘Animal Kingdom’

Turner Broadcasting is experimenting with a way to keep viewers from skipping ads: a countdown clock showing how much time is left in each ad break. The idea was first tested this season on TNT’s new crime drama “Animal Kingdom,” via a timer at the bottom of the screen for both live TV and pay TV affiliates’ VOD systems. The timer appears when there is 60 seconds left in a break. NBC’s “Today” and ABC’s “Good Morning America” have also used countdown clocks, but “Animal Kingdom” may be the first primetime show to do so. Continue reading Turner Tests New Ad Countdown Clock with ‘Animal Kingdom’

Time Warner Invests in Hulu with Plans to Join Pay TV Service

Time Warner announced it is investing $583 million for a 10 percent stake in Hulu, joining forces with existing owners Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal. However, Time Warner does not plan to offer its television programming via the current version of Hulu’s video service, which features repeats of recently aired shows. Instead, the media giant will license its content for the new pay TV service that Hulu plans to launch in 2017. That means channels such as Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT and Turner Classic Movies would be available to viewers through the planned live TV service. Continue reading Time Warner Invests in Hulu with Plans to Join Pay TV Service

Dish and Comcast to Offer NBC’s 4K Rio Olympics Coverage

According to Multichannel News: “Dish Network and Comcast will be joining AT&T in offering access to NBCUniversal’s delayed 4K coverage of the Summer Olympics in Rio.” Comcast will provide content from Rio on demand via its Xfinity in UHD app for Samsung and LG smart TVs, while Dish will offer content on linear channel 146 and on VOD via the Hopper 3 DVR and 4K Joey box. Dish will also include a sports hub on channel 148 for access to NBCU’s coverage and integrate the NBC Olympics app on its Hopper and Joey devices. Dish’s Sling TV will also carry select coverage on its Sling Blue service. Continue reading Dish and Comcast to Offer NBC’s 4K Rio Olympics Coverage

Redbox Owner Agrees to Be Taken Private by Apollo Global

Apollo Global Management will acquire Bellevue, Washington-based Outerwall Inc., owner of Redbox movie rental kiosks and Coinstar coin counting machines, “for $52 a share, a transaction value of $1.6 billion when including debt,” reports The New York Times. “Investors applauded the move, sending the stock 11 percent higher in early trading Monday to a level just above the $52 buyout price.” Outerwall operates more than 40,000 rental kiosks in the U.S. and Puerto Rico, but has struggled to compete with cable VOD and streaming services. Redbox recently started testing its own streaming and download service. Continue reading Redbox Owner Agrees to Be Taken Private by Apollo Global

SES Begins Ultra HD Linear TV Trials with Small Cable Ops

The transition to Ultra HD is the classic chicken-and-egg scenario: Programmers don’t launch services because pay TV operators can’t distribute them, and consumers don’t buy UHD TV sets because there’s nothing to watch. Fifteen years ago that was the identical conundrum for High Definition, however, and now HDTV is ubiquitous in the U.S. Ultra HD just got one step closer to that with satellite operator SES’s launch of its first trials of Ultra HD 4K linear channels, to be followed by subscriber tests later in 2016. Continue reading SES Begins Ultra HD Linear TV Trials with Small Cable Ops

Redbox Beta Tests its New Streaming Service Redbox Digital

Redbox has begun to test its new streaming service, Redbox Digital, on a trial basis. In preparation for the current tests, Redbox issued a Redbox Digital iPad app on the App Store, and updated its terms of service on its website. There, the company details common usage restrictions, including territories, for the digital services. Redbox has not yet gone public with the catalog or fee structure for Redbox Digital, but streaming rentals will likely cost more than the current fee of $1.50 for physical disc rentals. Continue reading Redbox Beta Tests its New Streaming Service Redbox Digital

Sharing HBO GO or Netflix Passwords Is Now a Federal Crime

A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that using another person’s password to access online services such as HBO GO and Netflix is now considered in violation of federal computer laws. “But don’t panic,” suggests Variety. “It’s not likely that subscription VOD providers will suddenly have the feds descend on people swapping their login credentials.” While a 2015 study from Parks Associates projected that SVOD services could lose up to $500 million in revenue from password sharing, several services have downplayed the impact. During CES, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings even noted that many violators often become paying customers. Continue reading Sharing HBO GO or Netflix Passwords Is Now a Federal Crime

Ads Are the Top Reason for Canceling Streaming Video Subs

According to a survey from IBM’s Cloud Video division, 31 percent of respondents indicated that they had canceled a streaming video subscription before, while that figure jumped to 40 percent among those who listed Amazon or Hulu as their primary service. When asked why consumers would cancel their subscription, 27 percent pointed to advertisements, 25 percent cited cost, and 20 percent blamed the amount of available content. These reasons topped tech issues (17 percent), while 73 percent of respondents indicated that buffering or start delays were the most commonly experienced problems. Continue reading Ads Are the Top Reason for Canceling Streaming Video Subs

Netflix Updates Video Encoding, Aims to Use Less Bandwidth

According to a Sandvine study, Netflix has re-encoded some of its video library in order to make the streaming service more efficient and reduce its bandwidth demands. Netflix accounted for 37.1 percent of Internet traffic on fixed broadband networks during primetime hours six months ago in North America. Sandvine notes that Netflix represented 35.2 percent of downstream traffic under the same criteria during March of this year. “Last December, Netflix detailed changes in its video-encoding schemes, which the company said could reduce bit rates by up to 20 percent while delivering equivalent quality,” reports Variety. Meanwhile, “Amazon Video now represents 4.3 percent of peak-period traffic, up from 2 percent a year ago.” Continue reading Netflix Updates Video Encoding, Aims to Use Less Bandwidth

Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Viacom rolled out a standalone online service this week dubbed BET Play, targeting an adult audience (last year, Viacom launched Nickelodeon-related app Noggin for kids). The video-on-demand application will feature BET’s award programs, such as this week’s 2016 BET Awards, in addition to TV series, musical performances, documentaries, comedy specials and news. BET Play will launch for iOS, Android and Apple AirPlay-enabled TVs without the need for a broader pay TV subscription. It will be available in 100 countries outside the U.S. for the equivalent of $3.99 per month. Continue reading Viacom Debuts BET Streaming Service for International Market

Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Canadian-based Tablo has launched an app for Apple TV 4th generation devices that, with the company’s $200 Tablo DVR, will allow users to stream live TV and watch recorded programs. The Tablo DVR, seen as an alternative to TiVo, includes an over-the-air broadcast antenna, and two tuners for the $200 price. A $300 version offers four tuners; TV Guide data is an add-on at $5 a month. Tablo’s only downside may be that it requires some technical know-how to attach the user’s external drive to store the recordings. Continue reading Tablo Premieres Live TV and DVR App for 4th Gen Apple TV

Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

Flix Premiere — “the world’s first online Cineplex” featuring international and indie films — has launched in the U.S., two months after its debut in the U.K. Available online and via iOS and Android apps, the streaming service offers exclusive “curated theatrical releases” for $4.99 per title (or five tickets for $19.99). The website describes the service as “the single point of discovery for the 95 percent of films that ‘never’ find their audience.” Flix Premiere plans to introduce 8-9 new films every 10-14 days that will be exclusive to the platform for 12 months. Continue reading Flix Premiere: New Online Movie Platform Streams Indie Films

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