Broadband Usage Increase – Is It Because We Have More Devices Connecting To The Internet?

I was thinking this morning how things have changed in my own household in just ten years. Ten years ago I had two computers, one for me and one for my wife, connected to the Internet. Just five years ago we had only increased our broadband usage in our home by adding one additional laptop computer with a connection to the Internet. In the past year we have added more devices, so this morning I did a head count of just how many devices we had in our home with Internet access.

Computers: I have one desktop for gaming, and three laptop computers for a total of four.

Tablet – one Apple iPad

Chrome – one Cr-48 test computer.

Roku – two Rokus for streaming video to two HDTVs.

DirecTV – one device for streaming video from DirecTV.

Total number of devices: nine

So is it the number of devices we use in our home the cause of increased broadband usage or is it what we are doing with the devices that is increasing our usage? I would venture a guess that is it a combination of both. Netflix has become to new culprit that ISPs like to blame for our uncontrolled usage of broadband. The ISPs state that one could exceed a 250GB limit easily by streaming video into our homes, which some ISP companies claim can be done in as little as 10.5 days.

AT&T recently announced that the company would impose a 250GB cap starting soon. This may sound like a reasonable amount since AT&T provided its own figures that the average user only uses 18GB a month. But what about in a few years as more of us buy more tablet computers or signs up to stream video and/or TV programs? Those GB may go quickly and the ISPs will be the ones that benefit by adding higher charges to what they call broadband hogs.

Also adding to our GB woes are those who also use Skype or other video chatting services. So between all of these online services that we may use, broadband limits may come back someday to bite us in the rear end. For the causal Internet surfer this may not be a problem. But for those who want to take advantage of everything the Internet will offer, it could be.

So will the tiered pricing scheme have an affect on your surfing needs?

Comments welcome.

Source – gigaom

Netflix Is Building Its Own House Of Cards For A Rumored $100M

Look out, Hollywood, because there is a new kid in town who wants a piece of the action and the new kid is Netflix. The king of streaming video is now looking to produce its very own 26 episode series called House of Cards. The miniseries will feature Kevin Spacey, who has won an Academy Award and David Fincher, who starred in Social Network. It’s based on a popular British miniseries that was very successful.

Rumored to have cost the company a cool $100M, Netflix bidding was against the likes of AMC and HBO, and the company seems to want to make a statement to Hollywood and the television industry. If the miniseries is successful, Netflix could have leverage when dealing with movie studios and television networks who have been reluctant to see the Internet as a viable medium.

Netflix is challenging the way content will be distributed and is thinking outside the box. By financially backing the creation of its own miniseries it can control both content and distribution at what will be at a lower cost. This is not going to make some folks in the entertainment industry happy, and there may be an attempt to block Netflix from future endeavors on its turf.

Traditionally, Netflix distributes older content on its streaming model, refusing to pay the high premiums demanded by other companies. By doing this, Netflix has been able to attract some 20 million subscribers. Though companies like HBO have some 28 million subscribers, Netflix has something that few others have. It poses a phenomenal growth rate of 63% from the 4th quarter of 2009 until the 4th quarter of 2010, while the others have remained relatively stagnant during the same period.

But Netflix is not the only one on the Internet trying to get into the streaming content business. Recently Amazon announced that it would open a library of some 5,000 movies for its Prime Members. Prime Members pay $79.00 a year to have free second day shipping on items purchased from Amazon. The addition of free movies is a great bonus.

But will this be enough for Netflix to grab more subscribers? Would this be enough to make you join Netflix?

Comments welcome.

Source – CrunchGear

Source – WSJ

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Amazon Gives Something Away For Free And People Still Complain

By now I am sure that all of you have heard the news, that Amazon is going to provide free movie streaming to members who are using their Prime membership. The price, which I pay, is $79 a year for free 2 day shipping through Amazon. Like millions of others, I believe the $79 a year fee is a bargain when you see how much UPS or the USP people charge for mailing a small package. So yesterday when Amazon announced they would also include free streaming to Prime members at no additional charge, I was pleased that they didn’t raise the price for Prime membership.

But not everyone was pleased. When I was reading an article over at InformationWeek, I noticed this comment which I will dissect:

In order for this to work, you need to buy a Roku box ($199), then pay $79 per year just to watch online content?

This statement is erroneous. Roku pricing starts at $69.99 for their least expensive model the model HD, $79.99 for their XD model for 1080p streaming and $99.99 for the XDS top of the line model.

The $79 fee includes free 2nd day shipping for a year. Streaming is a free extra.

This is too much, especially when you can get the same thing from websites like TVDevo that offer a very similar thing without requiring a Roku box. All you need is an internet connection and your computer to watch with it.

If I am going to watch a movie in HD it will be on my HDTV and not on a computer. I stream from Netflix via a Roku to my HDTV and HD is high quality. My computer provides a mediocre picture nowhere near HD quality.

Good luck Amazon, but no thanks.

I seriously doubt that Amazon will go broke without this persons support. I for one like free streaming for us Prime users. Thanks Amazon!.

Comments welcome.

Source – InformationWeek

Why Amazon Subscription Web Service Will Be Good For Consumers

As many of you are aware, I am a huge supporter and user of Netflix subscriptions services. I not only get my one DVD at a time fix, but also streaming video to my HDTV. Amazon is also another business that I use and I am also a Prime member and have been using the free shipping service for about two years. So when I read about Amazon also getting into the streaming business as part of its Prime service, I immediately starting thinking which service I would want to use.

Netflix charges $7.99 a month for its streaming service, or $95.88 a year. If Amazon does include streaming video along with its Prime service, that is $79 a year, so consumers would save a few bucks. One article also states:

The Web’s biggest retailer has held talks with the Hollywood studios and several independent companies about acquiring library content for a subscription movie streaming service similar to Netflix, according to people familiar with the matter.

So why is this going to be good for consumers? Simple. It’s competition at its finest. Though I think that Netflix is doing a fine job at streaming movies into our living rooms, I believe that Amazon will also be able to provide a similar service at a competitive price. Amazon is currently offering VOD, video on demand,  so it just needs to fine tune streaming as a free service with a Prime membership.

I think that many of us who use Netflix for streaming movies may wish to consider what Amazon will offer. It is obvious that no company can offer new releases at these prices. I am anxious to see exactly what Amazon has up their sleeves.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – L.A. Times

Netflix Decision To Limit DVD Queue Draws Complaints

On Monday, Netflix informed their customers that adding streaming content to their queue from a connected device, would no longer be supported. The thinking from Netflix was that users could add content via their computer. On their blog site Netflix stated that:

We’re removing the “Add to DVD Queue” option from streaming devices. We’re doing this so we can concentrate on offering you the titles that are available to watch instantly. Further, providing the option to add a DVD to your Queue from a streaming device complicates the instant watching experience and ties up resources that are better used to improve the overall streaming.

But the proposed changes was meant with outrage by some customers. The feeling is that needing a computer to connect to Netflix is behind the times and actually defeats the purpose of streaming. Especially when it comes for those who stream video to their devices. Some of the comments were:

“With all sorts of streaming devices out there the computer is becoming more and more obsolete, this seems like a step backwards,” noted one concerned sub named Luke.

Raged another sub named Hal, “Sorry Netflix, I love you but this is idiotic. Hire some developers that know who has the premium accounts and who just has streaming access. It should all go by log in. This is a dumb move.”

For a company that has based their company on ease of use and satisfying their customers, it seems that Netflix may have stumbled when making this decision. It would seem that there is a large segment of Netflix clients that do their streaming to a device in which connecting directly to Netflix to add DVD to the queue is just a pain and not needed.

It seems that Netflix is going to experience some resistance from those of us who want to continue having their DVDs delivered to their home. Many people are skeptical that a streaming only model will succeed here in the US. We have become spoiled in being able to have our DVDs hand delivered to our mail box and return the disc for free. Streaming currently has a limited library and does not include the newest releases.

Until that happens, I need my DVD.

Comments welcome.

Source – paidContent

Roku Is Becoming The Little Engine That Could

One would have thought that when Google and Apple entered into the streaming video market place, that the little Roku would be swallowed up by the big guys. Instead the Roku has doubled in sales and are approaching 1 million units. So what makes the little box so attractive?

The units are inexpensive. I have purchased two of the Roku XD 1080p units from Amazon for $80. The little box is simple to set up using your home wireless network and a HDMI cable to your TV. Once it is set up you can start to select channels from the channel store and begin streaming.

So how are sales?

Today, as last-minute Christmas shoppers flock to Amazon, Roku is placed high on its list of the best-selling electronic devices. (Amazon represents about 25% of Roku’s sales, according to Wood.)

The $80 Roku XD streaming player is #9 on Amazon’s best-selling gadgets list, while its $100 XDS player (more features) is #11. Roku’s low-end “HD” player is #42.

Meanwhile, the $100 Apple TV, which is backordered at Amazon, is #23. Logitech’s Google TV box is #110. And the other buzzy competitor, the $200 Boxee Box by D-Link, is #171.

For die-hard Apple fans, Apple TV might be the best product, Wood concedes. But for everyone else, you can get similar features from Roku for $60, and more features than Apple TV — including 1080p output — for $99.

If you have a Netflix account you can set up streaming movies via your computer and they will appear in your Netflix queue on your Roku. I found this the easiest way to set up movies for viewing later.

Comments as always are welcome.

You can order a Roku directly from Amazon here.

Source – Business Insider

Netflix Adds Streaming Only Offer And Increases DVD Rental Fees

In what turns out to be a strange twist to its offering of a streaming only plan, Netflix has increased the price of its DVD rentals. The added fee is only $1 a month, for the single DVD at a time plan, while other plans have increased in price by $8 a month. The streaming only plan will be $7.99 a month for all you want.

On its blog site Netflix also stated that:

You might also wonder why we haven’t introduced a new plan that includes only DVDs by mail. The fact is that Netflix members are already watching more TV episodes and movies streamed instantly over the Internet than on DVDs, and we expect that trend to continue. Creating the best user experience that we can around watching instantly is how we’re spending the vast majority of our time and resources. Because of this, we are not creating any plans that are focused solely on DVDs by mail.

To avoid any confusion, here are the new prices on our plans:

The $7.99 plan for streaming only is the exact same price that Hulu is asking for its Plus subscription. I am using both Netflix and Hulu Plus on my Roku and will report which subscription has the best offerings and why.

If you are currently a Netflix client, your pricing should remain the same unless you switch plans. The price increase appears to be for new customers only.

Comments welcome.

Source – Netflix

My First Week With The Roku XD Model 2050X

During my first week using the Roku XD Model 2050X, I learned a few things that I wanted to share with you.

The Pros:

The unit shines brightly when you stream movies from Netflix. I have been able to stream movies in 720P without any issues. The quality is just as good as what you would find playing a DVD. This can only get better once Netflix starts to offer ALL of their movies for streaming. I for one could see a day when I would not even have to wait for the DVD to arrive, return it and wait for the next movie.

Pandora offers a good variety of music and I recommend this service.

If and when Roku gets Hulu Plus, we may be able to watch real-time or close to real-time TV streamed to our HDTV.

The Cons:

Unless you opt for a pay for view service like Netflix or the soon to be released Hulu Plus, the remainder of what you get for free, is not worth your time nor energy watching. Just my 2 cents.

I recommend a Roku for Netflix streaming and eventually Hulu Plus. I personally think it is so good, I ordered a second Roku XD Model 2050X for my bedroom HDTV.

Comments welcome.

Netflix vs ISPs – Is There A Battle Brewing?

As many of you know, I am a huge fan of Netflix. I have been with them for 5 years and have enjoyed their service and find their  $9 a month package a real value. The $9 a month package provides one DVD at a time plus you can stream all the video content you want. But it was only a matter of time before a battle would brew between Netflix and ISPs such as Comcast and others. The ISPs see Netflix streaming as a real threat to their TV broadcasting business as they should. If people dump cable or satellite TV in favor of broadband streaming to their TV sets. the ISPs would take a major hit in revenue.

In one recent article it stated that:

How does Netflix get tangled in the businesses of the likes of AT&T and Comcast (and Comcast’s proposed merger with NBC Universal)? Online video is seen as a major threat to traditional cable and satellite television firms, many of which want the FCC to allow companies to pay extra for higher-speed “channels” in the broadband Internet pipe.

In the third quarter, Netflix saw a 52 percent gain in subscribers to 16.9 million. Revenue increased 31 percent to $553 million. But most interesting: 66 percent of subscribers watched more than 15 minutes of streaming video compared with 41 percent during the same period last year. The company predicted Wednesday that in the fourth quarter, a majority of Netflix subscribers would watch more content streamed from the Web on Netflix than on DVD.

“This growth is clearly driven by the strength of our streaming offering. In fact, by every measure, we are now primarily a streaming company that also offers DVD-by-mail,” Reed Hastings (above), Netflix co-founder and chief executive, said in a release.

The company has already begun to wade into the debate over net neutrality at the FCC. Netflix lobbyists have visited the media bureau and other officials at the FCC at least three times in the last year and said in written comments that the FCC should not allow paid prioritization, or specialized services, that allow an Internet service provider to favor its own content or block out new competitors.

Analysts tout Netflix’s strides in forging partnerships with content companies and device makers, making it one of the most significant applications in Internet television. It has deals to distribute on Apple TV and Google TV. Netflix is already on the Wii game console and Blue-ray players.

So far content companies have been slow to distribute their shows and movies through online platforms like Netflix and many television shows are delayed by at least one day for online viewers.

It seems that the cable and satellite companies have been caught asleep at the switch. But it will be up to the FCC to decide exactly how companies like Netflix, Apple, Google, and others will be allowed to stream content to our homes. So yes, there is a battle brewing.

What do you think? Who is going to win the battle?

Will a streaming only package be a benefit to consumers? Would you subscribe to a streaming only package and give up DVDs being mailed to your home?

IMO I would go for a streaming only feature if it included the latest movies.

Comments welcome.

Source – The Washington Post

Does Netflix Need To Increase Its Inventory Of Streaming Content?

As many of you who read my articles know, I am a huge fan of Netflix and believe its rental service for only $9 a month is a great deal. It has become an even more valuable deal since Netflix also includes streaming of movies and TV programs to your computer or TV. But some are questioning if Netflix is slow in adding more content to its streaming service.

One recent article states:

In January of 2008, Netflix confirmed it had about 12,000 titles available for streaming. In September of 2009, ads on their website put that number at 17,000. Today, it appears that Netflix has about 20,000 titles for streaming, although Netflix won’t confirm that number for me. If that number is accurate, it means that Netflix has only added about 4,000 movies a year for the past two years. That’s not a lot of content.

The problem I have with these deals is that neither Netflix nor any of the studios are willing to say just how much digital content Netflix gets or how new any of that content is. If this deal is so good for Netflix users, why won’t they give out any specifics? As a Netflix user, I want to know what I am getting by giving up the ability to get new movies by mail when they come out. I would think Netflix would want to reinforce that with customers by telling them that they may not be able to get new movies, but look at all this other great stuff you get in return. Netflix simply tells their customers that these deals are good for us, with no details for us to decide for ourselves.

Why should we believe that the consumer is the one that is really going to benefit from this when it appears that only the studios and Netflix benefit? Because Netflix agrees to the 28-day window, the studios charge Netflix less for the DVDs when they go to buy them. And because of the window, the studios get to try to sell more DVDs to us, even though consumers are asking for more first-run digital content. We’re not asking to buy more DVDs. So I see the benefit to Netflix and the studios, but what about the Netflix customer?

I must admit that the writer of the article makes some very valid points. I have noticed that what Netflix offers for streaming is limited and not all older TV programs or movies are available. However,now that Netflix has expanded to Canada, it is only offering streaming media with no disks being mailed. One could hope that this would indicate that Netflix may be getting ready to stream only in the U.S. as well. If this is the case, more movies would be streamed, including the latest releases.

Comments welcome.

Source – Businessofvideo

Is Blu-ray DOA? You Decide

Apple has been against Blu-ray since the new format arrived. Apple has made it clear that they have no intentions of ever including a Blu-ray system on any of their computer systems. But other companies also have jumped off of the Blu-ray wagon which begs one to ask. Is Blu-ray DOA?

Netflix appears to be getting away from not only Blu-ray but also DVD disks. The company appears to be heading for a business model in which movies will be streamed from their site. This will eliminate the mailing and handling of both Blu-ray and DVD disks, plus inventory and the assorted problems will disks being lost in the mail or being damaged by users. Netflix has launched their services in Canada, but missing will be mailing of disks. The new model for Canada will be streaming only. The CEO of Netflix states that a streaming only plan is in the works for the U.S. as well.

Microsoft with their X-box 360 likewise is staying away from Blu-ray. The Redmond giant has stated that they have no intentions of ever including a Blu-ray player with their gaming consoles.

In a recent article it also states that:

Microsoft’s UK Director, Stephen McGill, recently gave an interview to Xbox360Achievements where he said:

Actually, Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format. People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay. So, who needs Blu-ray?

We might not be at the point where digital downloads equal Blu-ray in sheer quality, but it’s fast approaching, and digital downloads are able to grow and adapt and improve at a vastly quicker rate than those dinosaur physical disc formats.

Sure, this is stuff everyone probably already knows–but it’s nice to hear Microsoft say, flat-out, that they won’t bother wasting time on a format with a shelf life nearly as short as that of an avocado.

But will Blu-ray go the way of the dodo? I believe it will. We have been presented with a technology that offers little when it comes to video quality unless you are a video purist. For the average consumer DVD is just fine for watching movies. I also believe that we have been sold a bill of goods when it comes to the benefits of 1080p over 720p. Again, unless you are a purist, who cares.

I put off buying a Blu-ray player since I never did think it would take off. Instead I am buying a Roku to stream media to my HDTV. Apple, Boxee Box and Google are also offering streaming devices and I believe this is the wave of the future.

Since I am on my soap box, I might as well toss in 3D into the mix. 3D is going to go the way of the dodo as well. Just my 2 cents.

Comments welcome.

Source – fastcompany

Netflix Apology And A Streaming Only Plan For U.S.

The CEO of Netflix made a statement that he now claims was a joke, stating that we ‘Americans are self-absorbed’. I personally didn’t take offense to his remark and actually found some truth to his remark. There was also the issue of Netflix offering Canadians a lower subscription price that now has been cleared up. Apparently the Canadian subscription price of $7.99 is for streaming only with no DVD be mailed to a subscribers home. Now Netflix states that subscribers in the U.S. may be getting a streaming only package as well.

Here is the blog entry from Netflix:

Apologies

My Big American Foot is in my mouth. Yesterday, I made an awkward joke with a reporter in Toronto about Americans (like me) being self-absorbed relative to Netflix pricing in Canada. I was wrong to have made the joke, and I do not believe that one of the most philanthropically-minded nations in the world (America) is self-absorbed or full of self-absorbed people. The pricing Netflix is offering in Canada, $7.99 per month, does not include any DVD-by-mail option, and that is why it is cheaper than our $8.99 USA plan which has both DVD-by-mail and streaming in one plan. We are looking at adding a streaming-only option for the USA over the coming months. My apologies to anyone offended by my self-absorbed comment. Sincerely, -Reed

Interesting possibility if in fact it does happen. Streaming video is going to be the next great wave in entertainment. I personally believe that in the next few years more people will be cutting the cord with their cable companies in favor of streaming content from the Internet.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.

Source – Netflix

Cable Companies Still Don’t Believe That Consumers Are Cutting The Cord

Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg told a Goldman’s media conference that cable TV is going to go the way of the landline phone. He further stated that consumers are getting ready to cut the cord and head on over to the Internet for their video entertainment. But this one statement really hit home:

The next generation of consumers won’t have any interest in paying for it.

“Young people are pretty smart. They’re not going to pay for something they don’t need to,” he said. “Over the top is going to be a pretty big issue for cable.”

So when will this happen? It is going to be a while before this happens but the hand writing is on the wall.

“We take the over the top issue with video very seriously,” he said. “I think cable has some life left in its model…but that it is going to get disintermediated over the next several years.”

Seidenberg’s argument is that over the top is a much bigger deal for cable guys like Comcast (CMCSA), who have an entire business built around the bundle, than it will be for his company, which is a relative newcomer to video. Theoretically, he’ll be be able to replace some video subscribers with subs who pay for robust broadband connections. But like it or not, it’s going to happen, he says.

I was recently at our daughters home and they have a new blu-ray player that streams video from various sources. In the morning after she fed her 2 year old, she fired up the blu-ray player and streamed cartoon video’s of her choosing. She was able to control the content and when she wanted to have her child watch it.

I believe that one day we will be getting the majority of our entertainment via the Internet including TV.

Comments welcome.

Source – All Things Digital

Is Netflix Like The Little Engine That Could?

Over at Slate I just finished reading an interesting article about Netflix. I have been a loyal customer of Netflix for many years and have watched as it has improved its service in all areas. Customer service is top-notch and delivery of its movies via mail is just about flawless. I live in an area where Netflix has its own service center and delivery or returns are completed in one business day. When I have had any issues with a bad DVD, Netflix has immediately sent a replacement, even before the damaged disk is returned. Streaming now offers a great alternative for those wish to watch older movies and shows.

In the article it stated the following:

In 2005, Michael Pachter, an analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, called Netflix “a worthless piece of crap with really nice people running it.” Today, that worthless piece of crap has a market capitalization of $6.4 billion. In early 2007, when Netflix first announced its plans to allow subscribers to stream videos instantly—rather than wait for DVDs to arrive in the mail—esteemed tech journalist Om Malik predicted that this move would “soon be relegated to the dustbin of failed ideas.” Netflix has more than doubled its subscriber base since then, and today nearly two-thirds of them use Netflix’s streaming video service.


While its critics were flailing away, the company has continued to grow steadily and spread its influence well beyond the red envelope. One of Netflix’s direct competitors, Blockbuster—which for years was supposed to put Netflix out of business—is teetering on the edge of bankruptcy. Netflix’s iPad app was widely deemed one of the best available when the device launched in April. And when Apple announced today that its new Apple TV service would stream movies and TV shows, Netflix content was front and center.

What is it about Netflix that causes critics to misread it so badly? Call it the innovator’s paradox: Netflix forged an identity by building a simple business—DVD delivery by mail—that had never been done before. The very fact that this DVD-by-mail idea connected so deeply with consumers led many observers to think that was all that Netflix could or would ever do. Instead, the DVD delivery service—while still vital to Netflix’s revenue—looks more like the Trojan horse of a much wider strategy designed to change how Americans watch filmed entertainment.

Netflix is one of those companies that I believe is under estimated and also under estimated. They will have to pry the DVD or Blu-ray disc from my dying hands before I give up using the service. Plus, I believe they offer real value for only $9 a month.

Comments welcome.

Source – Slate

Apple TV, Roku, Boxee Box, Or A Gaming Console, Which Do You Use To Stream Video?

With all of the new devices available for streaming video to a HDTV, I have taking a looking at the devices available. I have been a Netflix users for years and I am on the $9 a month plan which includes video streaming. I also have a 12Mbps Internet speed and have used video streaming on my laptop without issue. I also connected a Nintendo Wii to my HDTV, but notice that the picture quality was just OK. The Wii streams in SD only.

I took a look at the HD Roku being offered by Netflix for about $70. This also includes a wireless connection built into the system. In addition, I know that some of the newest Blu-Ray players now also comes with Netflix streaming ability built-in as well as wireless connectivity. After looking at all of the different connections, I am leaning toward the Roku.

So my question to you is this?

Is a Roku a good device or do you have a better recommendation?

Comments welcome.