Netflix and More Comes to VR

Virtual reality is heralded as the next step for your home entertainment. One of the biggest competitors for virtual reality is the Oculus Rift, a headset designed to let you play your PC without being distracted by the room or the world as a whole. So why not enjoy those Netflix and chill nights while blocking out the whole world?

Oculus Connect 2 was an event organised to advertise the concept of virtual reality to the masses while talking about how it would go forward. Amongst the news that came to the crowd was the announcement of several video content services for virtual reality headsets, including the Samsung Gear VR headset which is set for release later this year in November.

The Samsung Gear is set to sell at around $99 (approximately £65) and is intended to be compatible with Samsung phones, meaning anyone with a Samsung phone could soon experience the benefits of virtual reality soon.

Included in the companies that are bringing their video content to the systems are Netflix, Hulu, 20th Century Fox, Twitch, Facebook and Lionsgate.

With a large catalogue of movies and television shows coming to virtual reality, and film companies like 20th Century and Lionsgate backing, could show that the old days of trying to watch your movies on your tiny phone screens could soon become as immersive as losing yourself at the cinema.

Thank you Gigaom for the information.

Image courtesy of Netflix.

Hulu Planning An Ad Free Subscription?

On paper, the media streaming service Hulu is a great idea, either watch selected shows for free or pay a $7.99 (£5.12) fee to view an expanded array of content. But the problem lies with United States based consumers who pay a subscription but are still subjected to commercials within the lowest tier package, which I think is a cheek considering if you pay a price, you should not have to view ads as well.

Recent reports have suggested that Hulu is planning to respond to this by offering consumers a new subscription package which wipes out adverts altogether. There is speculation that Hulu would be willing to market these new tiers at between $12 and $14 dollars (£7 – £9) approx.

This on paper sounds an improvement, but in order for the rumoured change to be successful, the media streaming service will need to re-think an additional subscription tier by the name of “Showtime”. Which for an additional $8.99 dollars (£5.76) a month on top of the current subscription, consumers can watch a larger library of content which is commercial free.

On top of this there is also another problem, technically, Hulu is only available in the US, Yes we all know where we are going here so I won’t say. So, if Hulu wishes to grow its business model, it will need to offer content to consumers in more countries legally. I do feel Hulu has been dwarfed by Netflix in terms of territories and also notoriety with the most logical outcome being one subscription price for all content.

Will these possible changes be a turn off for consumers? Well here’s the killer, Hulu is owned by many of the TV companies which include-21st Century Fox, Comcast, and the Walt Disney Company. These conglomerates have a vested interest in marketing the product with commercials in order to garner increased revenue. If more people migrate to ad free alternatives and are still able to watch the latest shows at the expense of the traditional TV, what incentive is there for Hulu to move completely away from adverts?

Now, as I write this, I am not condoning or supporting piracy in any way, the facts are this, unless Hulu changes and implements a service which is completely ad free. How will Hulu market the product at new subscribers when said consumers are able to watch the same content, which is available ad free to download illegally or to view on other legal services?

Companies need to drastically re-educate themselves on the effectiveness of adverts in the Internet generation; otherwise there will be a steep decline in revenue as streaming services becomes the prime destination for consumer viewing habits.

Thank you Gamespot for providing us with this information

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YouTube and Netflix Marked as a Threat to a Greener Internet

While Netflix and YouTube users sit comfortably in their chairs and watch their favourite TV series and subscribed channels, service providers are constantly struggling to come up with better and greener solutions to power their data centres and keep up with constant demands. However, the lack of real results has been the main concern of Greenpeace recently.

The NGO stated that the growing demand from services such as Netflix, Hulu and YouTube presents a challenge for the companies to rely solely on renewable energy. However, Greenpeace points out that video streaming as a whole proves to be a challenge to get the Internet to go green.

Their report shows that video streaming services total up to more than 60% of the Internet’s traffic, which is likely to reach 76% by the end of 2018. Despite the latter, companies are still searching for ways to power up their services with greener energy from geothermal, solar and hydro solutions.

Greenpeace came up with a ranking for companies that make efforts in supplying their services with clean energy. Apple is said to come up as number one thanks to it investments into solar energy, followed by Google and Facebook for their ambition to rely more on green energy and not traditional sources.

Though an official ranking has not been made for Netflix, Hulu and YouTube, the NGO said that online videos are one of the most power-hungry type of service on the Internet. No doubt this answers the question on who has the biggest energy consumption footprint on the web. However, Google expressed its goal on having its YouTube service reach the 100% mark in renewable energy. Unfortunately, the service only reached a percentage of 35 up until now.

The biggest problem, in my opinion, comes from the actual power providers. Electrical companies rely mostly on traditional power-generating techniques and are slow on switching to renewable energy due to the cost of making that step. Until we see some dedication on going green from the latter, services and other power-demanding businesses are likely to show slow progress in this area as well.

Thank you PCWorld for providing us with this information
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Hulu Buys Streaming Rights to the Entire Seinfeld Series for up to $180 Million

Hulu just got done striking a deal with Sony Pictures Television for the streaming rights of the beloved show Seinfeld. The deal was for the entire 180 episode series, with Hulu paying up to $180 million. There are varying reports of what the total what the claims are stating are between $700,000 to $1 million per episode.

Hulu has beaten out Amazon, Netflix, and Yahoo for the digital streaming rights to the ’90s classic American sitcom “about nothing”. This no doubt will be worth it in the long run for Hulu as the show is still extremely popular in syndication. There have been varying reports about the actual amount that the deal is for since it hasn’t been made public yet. Though some of the first reporting media outlets are saying figures of between $700,000 to $1 million per episode.

Unfortunately for Hulu customers that want to watch the show they will still have to sit through a few commercials even if they are paying customers of Hulu Plus. The commercials certainly make a lot of money for the streaming service, but also hurts its potential customer base as many users refuse to upgrade to Hulu Plus because they still play commercials.

Thank you, Wall Street Journal for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of tumblr.

D’oh! No More The Simpsons Boxsets

With the first DVD boxsets of The Simpsons being released back in 2001 and many fans building collections up there is news that many won’t be able to complete their collections. There was a decision to stop making the boxsets, which comes as little surprise with streaming media dominating that of physical media sales.

Now that The Simpsons can be streamed from Hulu and Fox’s own service the demand for physical media of the series is probably taking a big hit. The previous releases of the box sets had special features such as deleted scenes, behind the scenes footage and commentary on episodes. This is something that the die-hard fans will definitely come to miss and it will be interesting to see what kind of special stuff Fox will do for streaming media.

Source: Metro

Marriott Hotel to Offer Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora to Guests

The Marriott hotel chain is trialling a new in-room entertainment package in eight of its hotels that includes access to video streaming platforms Netflix and Hulu, plus internet radio service Pandora.

“We have invited leading technology companies and content providers to work with us to design the next wave in in-room entertainment focusing on on-demand programming,” John Wolf, a spokesman for Marriott, told Bloomberg. “We are currently offering guests in eight test hotels the opportunity to stream their content through our high-definition TVs whether it is Netflix, Hulu or Pandora.”

The entertainment channels are available as part of the hotel’s premium WiFi package, but it is not yet known if existing users of Netflix, Hulu, and Pandora would have to pay an extra charge to access the services from their hotel rooms.

Source: TechCrunch

Hulu Bags the Rights Stream Every Episode of South Park

Hulu scored themselves a great deal earlier this week, securing rights to stream all 17 seasons of South Park via their Hulu Plus service, with new episodes being made available to subscribers just one day after they’ve been broadcast on TV.

This is a pretty big deal for the service, especially in light of Amazon and Netflix, who have been racking up the major exclusive deals constantly for quite a while now and personally, I haven’t even looked at Hulu for a long while, but this new deal will no doubt get the attention of many South Park fans who feel the need to plow through the 240+ episodes of the iconic animated series.

The deal didn’t come cheap, clocking a whopping $80 million on the Hulu cheque book, the massive profits of which will help Trey Parker and Matt Stone keep the show alive way beyond its 20th season.

This is also the first time the entire collection has been made available to stream, with Hulu, Netflix and SouthParkStudios.com previously offering a mixture of seasons and episodes each. The added bonus being that viewers can watch every episode of the series for fre eup until the new season starts on September 24th.

Thank you The Verge for providing us with this information.

Maxthon Releases Windows PC Browser Designed for Faster Video Playback

Maxthon is a web browser for Windows, OS X and Linux, developed in China by the company Maxthon Ltd. Latest news point to the browser receiving an update aimed towards video playback, having features such as “AdSkipper” providing support for skipping through advertisements without slowing the video downloads.

The company has recently struck a deal with MediaTek to pre-load the browser onto more than 100 million handsets this year, having its strategy focused on mobile handset. However, PC users will still receive a lot of support from the company, having the browser include Linux support this March and the new Windows PC desktop version.

With over 100 million unique devices per month using the browser, Pew Research has made a study and came up with some interesting results. The study is said to show that 78% of adults watch or download videos online, having Maxthon using the provided information in order to add video-optimisation to the new version of its browser.

It is also said that the company claims its browser uses memory and CPU usage more efficiently, having video play much faster and with fewer stops and lags. The browser allows users to even drag videos out of the browser screen as well as use the “boss key” to add a “very boring, work-like-looking spreadsheet”over the video you are watching.

Maxthon’s vice president, Karl Mattson, states that the video-optimisation feature was first introduced earlier this year in China, where the ad-skip feature proved to be extremely useful, having users previously dealing with a “flood” of advertisements when attempting to watch videos. It is said that users watching videos on the Maxthon browser, regardless of internet speed, will notice almost no lag, stability over time and video fast-forwarding.

Flash videos are said to work best with the browser at hand, having HTML5 formats currently being worked on. This means that users should get the best results when attempting to watch Netflix and Hulu on Maxthon, having YouTube performance depending on the user agent set in the browser’s settings.

The company has also stated that Windows PC users will not be the only ones receiving the video-optimisation feature, having the other platforms, such as Android, iOS, OS X, Windows Phone and Linux scheduled to receive the feature later on.

Thank you TechCrunch for providing us with this information

Study Reveals Gamers To Be More Educated, Social and Successful Than Non-Gamers

Gamers have always been thought to be comprised mostly by loners and rejects, the so-called nerds who live in their parent’s basement and play video games all day long. However, a recent study has shed light on this dilemma, revealing that only one perception is true from the previously mentioned, which is that gamers are truly nerds.

A study commissioned by the video game streaming network Twitch and conducted by social researcher Neil Howe revealed an entirely fresh perspective of the gaming community by suggesting that gamers are more successful, social and more educated than the non-gamer society. The company is said to have surveyed more than 1,000 people via the Internet regarding their gaming habits while also extracting some demographic information. For the case study at hand, it has been said that a typical ‘gamer’ was defined as an individual who has played a game on a digital device in the past 60 days, having over 60% of surveyed individuals in total fitting the profile.

According to The Washington Post, who received a copy of the case study, gamers are more likely to be living with others, such as family, friends or significant others, and are more likely to agree with the following statement: “My friends are the most important thing in my life”, having 57% of gamers agree with the statement. The study also reveals that gamers are also divided more evenly by gender, with 52% identified as being male and 48% female, compared to a similar study back in 2004 revealing an estimated 40% of female gamers.

Another aspect extracted from the case study is said to reveal that gamers are slightly more likely to be employed full-time, having 42% of gamers employed full-time, compared to the 39% non-gamer full-time employees. In terms of media habits, it has been identified that gamers spend more time using their gadgets and also tend to spend a lot of time with media through popular video streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Though most modern gamers already are familiar and agree with the provided information, it is nice to see Twitch and Neil Howe providing some actual hard facts and truthful information regarding the definition of a ‘Gamer’ and hopefully diminish the false rumors which have been roaming around the non-gamer community for some time now.

Thank you The Washington Post for providing us with this information
Images courtesy of Capital FM, GBeye and Keep Calm-o-Matic

Microsoft Will Be Offering Free Access To Netflix & Hulu – XBL Refunds To Follow

A couple of days ago we were hearing rumours that Microsoft may have been looking to change the way in which users of online streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu, with the need to have an Xbox Live Gold subscription to use the services no longer needed. At the time we were speculating that any changes may have been announced at this years E3 show. Fortunately however, it seems that we don’t need to wait as long as we thought with Microsoft now announcing the change in their online subscriptions.

Starting next month, Netflix, Hulu Plus and HBO Go will be free to access (although their individual subscriptions will still be required) though the popular games console and in addition, anyone who has bought an XBL Gold subscription purely for these services will qualify for a partial refund, if requested. After the services moves over to the new setup next month, users will be able to quest a refund on their subscription, although the actual amount that will be refunded will be based on when the package was originally purchased, when it is due to expire and when the cancellation was requested.

Users are being informed though that refunds will take a notable amount of time to take place – anything up to eight weeks in fact, as working out how much is owed is not going to be an easy task. All of this though shows as a positive step in the right direction for Microsoft, however we still do not know as of yet if any other existing services will be moved behind the pay wall in exchange for the above services.

Source: The Verge

Netflix & Hulu May No Longer Require XBL Subscriptions

We are hearing rumors on the tech news grape-vine that Microsoft could be remodeling the way that users access popular online services such as Netflix and Hulu through their consoles. At this moment in time, if you want to access these popular subscription based services, you need to have an Xbox Live Gold membership which in reality means you are double paying a premium in order to watch a file or TV series online.

Although this is great news for many users, the grape-vine may also suggest that a number of currently free services will be moved to behind the walls of an XBL subscription in order to keep the balance of what is on offer.

Whether or not these rumors are true or not we are unsure to be totally honest, with Microsoft holding the cards very close to their chests and not responding to any questions that are being asked. All we do know is that any changes are likely to be announced next month at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles.

Source: Kotaku

 

 

New Android TV Interface to Fill Your Screens

It’s been sometime since Google released it’s planet shaped Google TV into the wild back in 2012. Despite not lasting long in the market mainly due to pricing, that hasn’t stopped Google from working hard at something that will take over your living rooms.

The Verge released an exclusive look at the new interface and it’s looking sweet. There is a definite flavor from XBMC’s receipe book but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The biggest change in Google’s approach this time is that instead of trying to make it less computer platform and more entertainment interface. With Google’s strong offerings in voice and notifications baked into the platform behind the scenes. This time around should be  huge game changer in the battle for your living rooms.

Check out the full article at The Verge.

 

Thanks to The Verge for the screenshot and provided information.

Hulu Plus Available On The Nintendo 3DS

Hulu has today announced that it will provide access to its library of streamable TV shows and movies to Nintendo 3DS, Nintendo 3DS XL, and Nintendo 2DS owners. Will this app kill your cable subscription in the future? Who knows.

According to the official blog post, Hulu and Nintendo worked together to provide a solid experience across the various handheld gaming devices, one that “takes advantage of the systems’ dual screen option. This means that users can be viewing Hulu content on the top screen while browsing through content options on the bottom screen. And where browsing is concerned, Hulu ensures that it’s the same user experience Huluers have grown accustomed to, with trays for each category of content including recommendations.

In addition to the above, Hulu users who have both the Nintendo 3DS and a Nintendo Wii or Wii U are in luck. Hulu has built out the 3DS app to automatically swap a show from the Wii to the Nintendo 3DS as you leave the house. Clever. The Hulu app on 3DS also comes with a feature called Smart Play, which lets you instantly resume the last episode you were watching on any device from a single button.

Finally, Hulu has implemented a Kids Lock on the 3DS app that only lets users surf content from Hulu’s kid’s section, which is pretty important considering the demographic of Nintendo 3DS and 2DS users. As with any new sign-up on Hulu, you’ll get a one-week free trial here.

Thank you TechChurch for providing us with this information.

Image courtesy of TechChurch.