Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Internet TV Digest #3

This is the third of an occasional feature on TV Banter called Internet TV Digest.  Internet TV Digest contains recent news, information and discussion about online television.


Good news and bad news for Netflix

Netflix released its first-quarter earnings yesterday (April 17, 2017) and there was both good news and bad news for the giant Internet streaming company  First, the good news. First quarter earnings surpassed expectations and revenue was in line with the estimates of analysts. Indeed, the company's first quarter profits were $178 million.  Now, the bad news.  The company added fewer subscribers than had been forecast.  The total number of subscribers was 98.75 million, which fell short of the expected number of 98.93 million. According to Bloomberg, analysts expected Netflix to pull in 5.49 million new users. However, the actual number was 4.95 million.  That's hardly a disaster, but as Rhett Jones points out in his April 17th article on gizmodo.com ("The Competition May Be Catching Up With Netflix'), "missing the projections means a lot when you're a publicly traded company."  In other words, perception is an important factor.

Netflix attributed the disappointing subscription numbers to the absence of blockbuster series such as House of Cards.  However, there are likely other considerations to explain the lacklustre growth of Nexflix subscriptions.  Rhett Jones thinks it means that Netflix is facing stiffer competition.  He says that "Netflix is probably waking up to the crowded streaming landscape."  Netflix was founded in 1997.  Is it really surprising that things have changed in 20 years?  Hulu is no longer its only real competition.  Other companies are catching up and new streaming services are sprouting up everywhere.

According to Reed Hastings, Netflix's CEO, the company's biggest competition is sleep. In an interview with analysts after the Internet TV provider released its first quarter report. Hastings stated, "When viewers get addicted to a Netflix show, Hastings  "you stay up late at night," "We are really competing with sleep on the margin," he added.

Amazon's streaming service is riding high with success of Manchester by the Sea and new NFL deal

Amazon's studio earned three Academy Awards for its much-acclaimed film Manchester By The Sea, which will be shown on the service beginning May 5th.  Furthermore, this season, Amazon. rather than Twiitter, will stream Thursday Night Football to sports fans. The company has completed a deal with the NFL to stream 10 Thursday night football games during the 2017-2018 football season.  According to Jacob Klein in an article on the extremist.com website, the value of the deal is estimated to be $50 million.

Here's the rub, though.  Klein says that Amazon will be "paywalling these games behind an Amazon Prime subscription."  This mean that users will be required to pay the $99 a year fee in order to get access to these games. Twitter and Yahoo! had offered streams of games for free, so viewers who are less interested in a subscription will not be so pleased.

Netflix replaces five-star rating system in favour of thumbs up, thumbs down 

Netflix has replaced it's five-star rating system with a "thumps up" system.  The company has chosen to go with binary digits instead of stars.  The writing was on the wall, according to Tom Vanderbilt in his March 31st opinion piece in The New York Times.  Vanderbilt says that in 2012, Netflix's vice president of production innovation, Todd Yellin, told him that the firm was "de-emphasizing" ratings in its algorithms.  Netflix, writes Yellin, is no longer as reliant on viewers expressing their opinions by rating shows.  It can discern their preferences by analyzing what they have actually watched.

Guide to watching live television online

Are you searching for a guide to watching live television online?  An article titled "How to Watch Live TV online should be helpful.  It appears on a tech website called Tom's Guide. Check http://www.tomsguide.com/us/watch-live-tv-online,news-17512.html for the April 4, 2017 article by science/games/tech journalist Marxhall Honorof.

Guide to watching free internet TV for Canadians

More than six years ago, Stephen Weyman published Free Internet TV: A Complete Guide for Canadians.  Weyman describes Internet TV in Canada back then as a "primitive beast."  He says there are now more than 30 Canadian networks streaming complete episodes of their shows online "using top quality media players "  Here is the link to a website where you can download the PDF version of Weyman's step-by-step guide:

Quitting cable for online streaming video?

Are you considering quitting cable for online streaming video?  If so, you will find some tips in an March 29, 2017 article by Ryan Waniata that appears on the website Digital Trends.  Waniata's article is titled "Cord Cutting 101: How To Quit Cable For Online Streaming Video.  Here is the link:

Ryan Waniata @ryanwaniata
is the Associate Editor of Digital Trends.  His biography describes him as an" audio engineer, musician, composer, and lover of all things tech, audio and cinema".  

- Joanne

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