Netflix Isn’t Against Offline Viewing

Netflix is a huge company, with price increases to help cover the increased traffic that people use with the HD streaming experience. In a recent call though Netflix may look at helping you watch those movies on the go while avoiding the data usage costs that come with offline viewing.

CEO Reed Hastings responded to questions about the possibility of letting its subscribers watch shows offline by saying that they would “keep an open mind on all this”. Part of the reason Hastings gives for this open approach is the “uneven set of networks” that Netflix is noticing as they expand to new areas of the world.

With Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, Neil Hunt, stating last year that they wouldn’t add the feature thanks to the “complexity [it brings] to your life”, directly followed by “with Amazon Prime”. Amazon Prime lets you download and stream shows, and with a new pricing model offering monthly subscriptions, Netflix may be changing their tone to help fight off the competition in the media streaming market.

With services like Sky Go, Amazon Prime and even BBC’s iPlayer letting you watch content offline, Netflix is one of the few services that doesn’t offer offline viewing, something that can often put people on or off services when their internet cuts out mid-show.

Amazon Prime Opts For Monthly Subs to Compete With Netflix

When it comes to video streaming service, there is currently a debate over which is best for you, Netflix or Amazon prime. With Netflix recently raising its prices, Amazon Prime looks to be a large contender thanks to some of the original content it now produces, but many are put off by the large upfront cost for the service. This could change as US users of the service could switch to a monthly service.

Previously Prime users had to pay a yearly subscription of $99, offering access to not only their fast delivery options but also Prime Video and Prime Music, the media providing aspects of the Prime service. The monthly subscription costs $10.99 a month if you wanted to keep all the benefits while if you only wanted Prime Video you could opt in for the $8.99 subscription.

With the yearly total costing you $131.88, a 25% increase overly the annual membership, users may want to take the monthly bundle around times like Christmas or large concentrations of birthdays, rather than using it as a go to package over the yearly service. It should also be noted that if you were to select the monthly subscription you won’t get the 25% prepayment discount that annual members of prime benefit from.

Netflix to Increase Prices For 37 Percent of US Customers

Netflix has rapidly become a legitimate rival to traditional Television broadcasts and revolutionized the way we all watch video content. Instead of having to view your favourite programmes based on their pre-arranged listings, you can instantly access a huge library without adverts. Furthermore, exclusive programming such as House of Cards showcases the quality content, and value when subscribing to Netflix’s service. While there is competition from Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and others, none of these really compared to Netflix’s ability to offer a massive range of blockbuster films.

Unfortunately, price increases have been occurring on a regular basis which might deter some users from continuing their subscription. Furthermore, the company recently clamped down on users accessing the US library with a DNS or VPN. Annoyingly, consumers outside of the US often have to put up with a fairly restricted selection of TV shows which is down to licensing agreements. Once again, this is another reason why certain long-term subscribers might feel inclined to cancel.

Some time ago, Netflix announced that they would be increasing prices gradually and freeze the cost for current users for a limited time. The ‘grandfathering’ period has now expired which means that almost 17 million US subscribers protected by this scheme will face a price increase from $7.99 a month to $9.99. This follows a 50p price hike in the UK and it looks likely that the company will continue with this strategy especially for those purchasing the HD tier. Of course, acquiring the broadcasting rights to expensive programming is bound to cut into Netflix’s profit margins. It’s clear they want to offer the best possible library and form the new instant form of Television.

However, if the prices continue to rise and eventually cost more than a cable service, I’m not sure how many subscribers they will lose. In the USA, I don’t think it’s likely, but disgruntled customers outside of the US market might feel they’re receiving poor value due to the smaller library while paying a similar price.

FCC Says Netflix Throttling Itself Isn’t Against Net Neutrality

Recently the popular streaming service Netflix admitted that when it comes to mobile phones accessing their system, they reduced the video quality on most mobile networks to help avoid excessive data usage. This caused an uproar given Netflix’s stance on the topic was to support the concept of Net Neutrality (the idea being that all traffic on the internet is equal and, therefore, shouldn’t be prioritized or capped based on its content). It nows seems that the FCC have stated where they stand on the matter.

The FCC’s Chairman Tom Wheeler stated that the Federal Communications Commission had no intention of investigating the service for throttling its own streams. Critics of Netflix agree with the idea that the FCC’s ruling on net neutrality applies to internet service providers, those that provide the entirety of the internet to you rather than just a service within the internet. Even with this agreement, they want the company investigated, with Wheeler clarifying that they “do not regulate edge providers”. An edge provider in this case is what the FCC title online content providers, the ones that actually use the internet to provide a service rather than provide access to the internet itself.

This comes at a time when the FCC are openly investigating mobile providers for their internet usage systems, with companies like TalkTalk offering their Binge service, a service which allows you to stream unlimited amounts of content from select providers that have partnered up with TalkTalk.

Where do you stand? Should companies be allowed to reduce quality to ensure you get a smooth service without additional costs? Should they be allowed you provide you with “unlimited content” from select providers?

Netflix Party Lets You and Friends Watch Netflix Together In Different Rooms

Remember those times you see a really good movie on Netflix and just want to watch it with a friend? If that has ever been you, you know that sometimes you can’t be in the same room to watch Netflix every time you find something interesting to watch. In this day and age being stuck in the same room to watch a film really shouldn’t be a problem, and Netflix Party looks to solve that problem.

Netflix Party is a google Chrome extension that will let you and friends watch Netflix from two different machines. Adding synchronised video playback you never have to worry about your friend being behind or in front of you, even during those embarrassing moments when the call of nature interrupts an action scene. Alongside the playback options, Netflix Party goes so far as to add a group chat to the side of the movie, meaning that if you wanted to discuss and talk during the film without microphones disturbing your experience, the option is there to write your opinions about the plot holes and characters without disturbing the experience for everyone.

You can find the extension here, and the official site has a three-step guide on how to start using the extension which we can summarise right here.

Step 1: Install the extension
Step 2: Open a video on Netflix
Step 3: Click the NP icon to start/join a Netflix party

Simple and enjoyable, just what we like to hear.

Netflix Reveals First Clips Of It’s Voltron Series

Who remembers videos? These days we use DVD, Blu-Ray and even just watch it straight to your phone or computer through a streaming service. With so many choices for delivery it, the content itself has to be pretty amazing. Well if new shows are your thing you may want to avoid this, the first clip of Netflix’s remake of Voltron.

Originally a series in 1984, Voltron sees several astronauts that pilot giant robots that can then combine, ring a bell anybody? The series was popular and spawned everything from comics, a one-hour tv special and even a video game in 2009, 25 years after its initial release.

As part of its attempt to add more “original” content to the service, Netflix has partnered up with Dreamworks to create and share Voltron: Legendary Defender. Set to release the first 13 episodes on June 10th and features a cast that’s filled with experience including Steven Yeun (Walking Dead), Rhys Darby (Yes Man), Kimberly Brooks (Bioshock Infinite) and Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow) to name but a few.

You can check out the trailer below which contains everything you could want from a Voltron show. Robots, check. Roars, check. Combination sequence, check. Explosions CHECK!!

With Netflix adding more content based on classics shows and the power rangers to receive a reboot, which other shows do you want to see brought back from when you were young?

Netflix Admits It’s Been Throttling Video for Mobile Streamers for Years

People have always been wary of companies when it comes to mobile data, with rumours T-Mobile was throttling connections for videos that weren’t signed up for their binge service. This seems to be common practise though with Netflix coming out and admitting that it’s been throttling connections for years.

Mobile data is a big topic these days, with more and more people using their phones to connect and browse the web while on the go. These matters only get bigger when people begin watching movies or streaming shows on the morning commute to work.

With companies like Netflix accounting for 35% of internet traffic, you can’t help but feel like they have a responsibility to help people out avoid the large charges that companies place on data use. Netflix admits that it has been throttling streams at 600 Kbps for mobile services, that is unless you are with Sprint and T-Mobile who Netflix state “historically those two companies have had more consumer-friendly policies”.

AT&T weren’t overly happy, releasing the following statement:

“We’re outraged to learn that Netflix is apparently throttling video for their AT&T customers without their knowledge or consent,” said Jim Cicconi, AT&T’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs.”

To be fair to the company, Netflix is looking at becoming more data efficient, including the re-encoding of re-encoding of its entire media library entire media library in order to help shave off those extra Kbps that will cost you. If you think this is something new, the company stated that it has been doing this for more than 5 years in order to “protect consumers from exceeding mobile data caps”.

No matter what you think of the company, no one seems to have noticed it before (can’t have been that big a deal could it?) and they were doing it for the right reasons so I don’t see how Netflix has done anything wrong other than not inform people before regarding the process.

NVIDIA Ramping Up GeForce Now to be “Netflix of Gaming”

NVIDIA is expanding its GeForce Now game on-demand service, which streams PC and console games to the NVIDIA Shield set-top box. The service currently has over 100 games available, for a monthly subscription fee, and has plans to not only expand its library, but also improve the quality of streamed games when it moves its cloud data centres to Maxwell-based GPUs, replacing its old Kepler-based units, later this year.

“We are still on the path of being the Netflix of gaming,” Phil Eisler, General Manager of GeForce Now cloud gaming at NVIDIA told VentureBeat. “The cloud gives us good analysis and data. About half of our customers are millennial gamers, and half are parents who enjoy playing games with their children.”

“Gamer dads who are 35 and older struggle to find time to play games with their kids. They like the convenience of the system and the retro content. The millennial gamers, meanwhile, are very impatient and like to get their games quickly,” he added.

Following the data centre upgrade, “[GeForce Now] will be the highest-performing system that you can get access to in your living room by the end of the year,” Eisler said. “Our focus is getting games to work in 30 seconds and we are working on ways to cut that in half. Other services may take minutes. So we focus on the most convenient way to play.”

Netflix Values HDR Content Over 8K – Has No VR Plans

While Netflix is increasing its output of 4K resolution content, users should not expect the streaming on-demand platform to introduce 8K video any time soon. Instead, the company will be pushing high dynamic range (HDR) content, which increases colour and contrast range in images.

“Something that’s a little bit more out there that we’re really excited about is the notion of HDR or high dynamic range,” Chris Jaffe, Vice President of User Interface Innovation at Netflix said during a media briefing at the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona (via CNBC).

“It’s less about packing more pixels on the screen like the move from HD to ultra-HD 4K was, it’s about extending the total range of those pixels … what that means is there’s a much more photo realistic image that you’re watching which is much more representative of the total range that your eye can see when you’re just looking around in real life.”

One visual innovation that Netflix will not be pursuing, though, is virtual reality. “We think there’s a great opportunity for VR in gaming and the gaming space is going to be an interesting place for them to explore it,” Jaffe added. “We don’t see an opportunity right now in the near-term for Netflix and VR, but we do want to watch how great story tellers use this technology, because at the end of the day, what you really see is when consumers really engage with great storytelling there’s a great opportunity and that’s what we really want to see.”

Netflix is aiming to release season one of Marco Polo and season two of Daredevil in HDR later this year.

Daredevil Season 2 Trailer Goes Heavy on The Punisher

Season 2 of Netflix’s Marvel series Daredevil has its first official trailer, and it’s all about The Punisher (The Walking Dead’s Jon Bernthal), though it does tease the arrival of another familiar name in its closing seconds. See for yourself:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m5_A0Wx0jU4

“Just when Matt thinks he is bringing order back to the city, new forces are rising in Hell’s Kitchen. Now the Man Without Fear must take on a new adversary in Frank Castle and face an old flame – Elektra Natchios,” the trailer notes read. “Bigger problems emerge when Frank Castle, a man looking for vengeance, is reborn as The Punisher, a man who takes justice into his own hands in Matt’s neighborhood. Meanwhile, Matt must balance his duty to his community as a lawyer and his dangerous life as the Devil of Hell’s Kitchen, facing a life-altering choice that forces him to truly understand what it means to be a hero.”

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Daredevil showrunner Doug Petrie promised that the new season will be faster-paced, while also playing the relationship between Daredevil and The Punisher as a morality play.

“Viewers watching the show will be rooting for this guy with a gun but we’re also going to force people — the way we force Matt — to second-guess themselves,” Petrie says. “Taking lethal justice into your own hands in America in 2015 is tricky s–t. We have not shied away from the rich complicated reality of Now. If you’ve got a gun and you’re not the police you’re going to incite strong feelings. We’re stirring the pot and we’re aware of the headlines where we live and we’re trying to get people to think.”

Season 2 of Daredevil launches on Netflix on 18th March.

Netflix to Introduce HDR Content This Year

With 4K slowly becoming the home standard for televisions and computer monitors, it seems that high dynamic range (HDR) is set to become the latest innovation for video content. HDR takes images of the same content, taken at a range of different exposures, and blends them together to highlight details that are imperceptible in a single shot.

Online video-on-demand service Netflix, which already offers a number of films and shows in 4K resolution – including its original shows House of Cards and Marco Polo, plus Breaking Bad, The Blacklist, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon – plans to release 5% of its content in HDR by the end of this year.

“I think HDR is more visibly different than 4K,” Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer for Netflix, told Digital Trends. “Over the past 15 years, we have had plenty of increments of pixels on the screen, and from what we saw with digital cameras, pixel count eventually stopped being interesting.”

Amazon’s Prime Video has already released its first show in HDR; the Golden Globe award-winning Mozart in the Jungle.

“In the real world, you have 14 bits of brightness difference, so imagine stepping outside to look at a reflection of water or shadow of a tree that’s between 12 and 14-bits of range,” Hunt added. “TV only represents 8 bits, so you lose one or the other; you can’t have the brights and the darks at the same time.”

Netflix intends to offer 20% of its content in HDR by 2019.

QNAP Added Netflix Support to TAS-x68 Dual-Systems

QNAP released their new innovative dual QTS and Android-based NAS a little while ago now they’ve improved more upon it with the addition of Netflix support. Android has grown into on of the largest app platform that can run on a lot of different types of hardware, including NAS servers. The QNAP TAS-168/268 uses this to its advantage and it is the first Android-based NAS that supports Netflix. Users can now simply download the free Netflix app from Google Play and get all the benefits from streaming service directly on their TV or monitor.

Users will simply need to connect their TAS-168/268 NAS to an HDMI display and they’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of this dual-system. Enjoy the numerous programs and multimedia content on Netflix with a smooth and convenient streaming experience. You can also attach a keyboard and mouse to directly to the NAS besides using the included remote control to take control of the playback.

“Netflix is one of the most popular Internet video streaming services in the world, and we are pleased to announce that it is compatible with our Android-based TAS-168/268 NAS.” said Hanz Sung, Product Manager of QNAP, “with the addition of Netflix, TAS-168/268 users can further maximize their home entertainment options by streaming their favorite movies and TV shows to a big screen in their living room.”

The QNAP TAS-168/268 are powered by an ARM v7 dual-core processor and come with 2GB DDR3 RAM. It is officially certificated by Google and Netflix isn’t the only available multimedia app. With access to the entire Google Play library, you got nearly endless possibilities in games and applications. There is no need to purchase an extra android TV box when your NAS already has these capabilities on top of terabytes of storage. The system can handle 4K (H.265 & H.264) HDMI output which makes it the optimal budget-friendly multimedia NAS that provides near-unlimited entertainment possibilities.

We will also have a full review ready for you shortly on the QNAP TAS-268, so stay tuned for more.

uNoGS Shows VPNs That Can Still Bypass Netflix Geoblocks

The excitement of Netflix expanding into 190 countries worldwide has sadly been tempered by the news that the video-on-demand platform has started restricting VPN “pirates” from bypassing geographical locks to access more content, especially since Netflix’ international catalogue pales in comparison to that of the US, the preferred region for VPN users.

However, a new site has sprung up that not only allows users to search for Netflix content across the globe, revealing exactly where a film, TV show, or documentary is available, but also informs you of which VPN works to access a particular region or country. uNoGS, or unofficial Netflix online Global Search lets you search for content by title, Netflix rating, IMDB rating, year, genre, actor, and even audio options and subtitles. A dropdown menu on selected content will then let you see if your VPN will allow you to view it.

For example, I was delighted to find that I could watch Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on the US Netflix from the UK using my preferred VPN, Private Internet Access:

“uNoGS is very much a one man show juggled as a hobby between work and family life. I initially built the site just for myself because the few sites that were providing a service like this were extremely limited in terms of search functionality,” Brian, the operator of uNoGS, told TorrentFreak. “I wanted to be able to see what was available in every country, when it was added, when it was supposed to expire and when it actually expired. Once I completed the initial build for myself I decided to share it with everyone and uNoGS went live in early May 2015.”

The surge in interest in uNoGS since being featured on TorrentFreak, though, means that the website is rather slow at present.

EU Proposal Could Ban Geoblocking Across Europe

Following the news that Netflix has begun restricting VPN use to bypass its region locks, the UK government has initiated a public consultation regarding European Union proposals to outlaw all forms of geoblocking across all member states.

“The European Commission has recently published draft legislation that is intended to ensure that all digital services are portable within the European Union,” the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) consultation file on “cross-border portability” legislation reads [PDF]. “This would mean that a person who lives in the UK, and who subscribes to a digital content service there, would be able to be confident they can continue to access that service when they are elsewhere in the EU, provided they have the right level of internet connection.”

The IPO report suggests that the UK fully supports the EU proposal, saying, “The Government supports cross-border portability, and the Prime Minister welcomed these proposals on the day of their launch. We will now be working with other European partners to negotiate the detail of the Regulations so that they deliver the best outcome for businesses and consumers.”

How this proposal will affect the licensing deals negotiated by video-on-demand streaming services, such as Netflix, is yet to be determined.  “It is currently difficult to provide portability for some types of content because of territorial copyright agreements which govern where services can be accessed,” the IPO report adds.

The EU’s proposal to outlaw geoblocking follows its recent antitrust investigation into content providers restricting its content dependent on location within Europe.

Image courtesy of Wikimedia.

Matt Groening to Create Animated Comedy Show For Netflix

Simpsons co-creator, Matt Groening revolutionized television and made it acceptable for adult audiences to watch cartoons. The Simpsons became renowned for its lovable characters, emotional storylines and remarkable comedy. While the show hasn’t been that great in recent years, older episodes still hold up remarkably well. Of course, the incredibly talented writer, and artist went onto produce, Futurama, which is one of my favourite programmes of all-time. I particularly enjoy the obscure mathematical references and over-the-top characters like Calculon! According to Deadline, Groening is set to create a brand new animated comedy for Netflix in addition to working on The Simpsons.

As you might expect, details are pretty sparse, and no-one currently knows what the new show will entail. However, this is just another example of Netflix expanding on their exclusive line-up and attempting to procure more subscribers. During the last couple of years, streaming video content has posed a legitimate rival to traditional television broadcasts especially among the younger demographic. It’s always going to be an impossible task to produce a show which comes close to matching the impact of The Simpsons. Nevertheless, Groening’s history is flawless despite Futurama being cancelled far too many times.

Are you looking forward to seeing something new from Matt Groening?

Image courtesy of Redditer stupidsexystartrek

Australian Netflix Users Threaten to Cancel Accounts over VPN Crackdown

Following the announcement by Netflix that it will begin cracking down on VPN ‘piracy’ to bypass geoblocked content, a number of Australian users have threatened to cancel their accounts with the video-on-demand platform, citing sub-standard native content, news.com.au reports.

Others argue that the move, in the absence of legitimate options, will only encourage illegal downloading:

https://twitter.com/SpaceCrazy/status/685873122260705280

While Netflix’s original shows – including the likes of House of Cards, Orange is the New Black, and Narcos – is available in all territories, independent of its geographical locks, it marks only a small fraction of the company’s content, much of which is tied to regional licensing agreements.

“If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in,” David Fullagar, Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture at Netflix, wrote in his announcement of the VPN crackdown. “We are making progress in licensing content across the world and, as of last week, now offer the Netflix service in 190 countries, but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.”

“We are delivering Netflix to 190 countries around the world. Our diverse slate of Originals and licensed programming should provide a service members find valuable no matter where they’re watching,” a Netflix spokesman told news.com.au. “As we continue to strive towards licencing content on a global scale, along with our slate of originals which launch globally simultaneously, the use of VPNs will become redundant.”

Netflix Begins VPN Crackdown

Netflix has announced that it is beginning its first widescale crackdown on VPN ‘piracy’ to view geoblocked content in other countries. David Fullagar, Vice President of Content Delivery Architecture at Netflix, revealed the move on Thursday evening (14th January) via the Netflix blog.

Fullagar blames existing territorial licensing agreements for the move, but expresses the hope that, one day, Netflix will be able to offer the same content to all users on a global scale. Until that happens, though, it will no longer turn a blind eye to customers that bypass global content locks using VPN services.

“If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in,” Fullagar writes. “We are making progress in licensing content across the world and, as of last week, now offer the Netflix service in 190 countries, but we have a ways to go before we can offer people the same films and TV series everywhere.”

“Some members use proxies or “unblockers” to access titles available outside their territory,” Fullagar adds. “To address this, we employ the same or similar measures other firms do. This technology continues to evolve and we are evolving with it. That means in coming weeks, those using proxies and unblockers will only be able to access the service in the country where they currently are. We are confident this change won’t impact members not using proxies.”

The move comes in the wake of Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, claiming at CES 2016 last week that it was “not obvious” how to block VPN usage to sidestep geoblocking.

Netflix Debates Geoblocking and VPN Use

Following its global rollout to over 130 countries, Netflix has been discussing the reality of its users bypassing geoblocked content via VPN services, admitting that it’s “not obvious” how to prevent it, The Globe and Mail reports. The technique of using VPNs, proxies, and DNS spoofers to access Netflix content in other countries has become widespread, especially in territories like Canada, citizens of which have access to only limited Netflix TV and movies, for which Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer for Netflix, blames “sliced and diced” territorial rights deals.

“Our ambition is to do global licensing and global originals, so that over maybe the next five, 10, 20 years, it’ll become more and more similar until it’s not different,” Neil Hunt, Netflix’s Chief Product Officer, during CES 2016 in Las Vegas last week. “We don’t buy only for Canada; we’re looking … for all territories; buying a singular territory is not very interesting anymore.”

Netflix in Canada also has to deal with cable providers such as Bell Media, which ‘protects’ its content to a fault, with CEO Mary Ann Turcke shopping her own daughter for bypassing Netflix’s geoblocking with a VPN, accusing her of “stealing”.

“We do apply industry standard technologies to limit the use of proxies,” Hunt added. “Since the goal of the proxy guys is to hide the source it’s not obvious how to make that work well. It’s likely to always be a cat-and-mouse game. [We] continue to rely on blacklists of VPN exit points maintained by companies that make it their job. Once [VPN providers] are on the blacklist, it’s trivial for them to move to a new IP address and evade.”

Netflix, however, hopes that users bypassing its geoblocks will become a thing of the past with global licensing deals. “When we have global rights, there’s a significant reduction in piracy pressure on that content. If a major title goes out in the U.S. but not in Europe, it’s definitely pirated in Europe, much more than it is if it’s released simultaneously,” Hunt said.

Video Startup Leaves T-Mobile Binge On Service

T-Mobile didn’t have a great year last year, after having their customer records stolen. After such a public fiasco, they didn’t have too much luck with their data policies. First the CEO confirmed that their unlimited data plans had restrictions, and then at the end of last year, it was revealed that their new service Binge On was throttling videos. The problem being is that 4Stream.TV, a video startup, has left T-Mobiles Binge On service over recent concerns for the service.

4Stream.TV’s creator, Slidefuse, has left the service citing the comments recently made on John Legere, CEO of T-Mobile, on his twitter account.

When Legere was asked by the EFF what Binge does to alter video streams or if it just limits the bandwidth used by the video, his response was that it used “proprietary software” and then began to ask “who the **** are you, anyway, why are you stirring up so much trouble, and who pays you?”. After being so defensive against the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a charity known for promoting equal access and rights to internet users, Slidefuse retracted their name from the 38 providers currently assigned to the Binge On service.

The controversial service would see that the listed providers such as Hulu and Netflix, would not count towards a user’s data use. The problem that has been found, by the EFF, is that once you are signed into the service, all your video content are throttled, resulting in a limited speed affecting all video streams, including those which you are downloading to watch offline later.

The service has got so bad that the company soon will meet with the Federal Communications Commission to discuss whether Binge On violates the net neutrality, a principle in which traffic on the internet cannot be prioritized or restricted over a different piece of content on the internet.

How to Exploit Netflix’s Meticulous Cataloguing for a Better Browsing Experience

As good as Netflix’s own algorithm for suggesting new things to watch is, sometimes you just want to explore, which is not an easy task using the video-on-demand service’s default interface. However, there is a sneaky way to exploit Netflix’s meticulous genre (and sub-genre) cataloguing system for a more precise browsing experience. Using this trick, you can search everything from “Children and Family Movies for ages 5 to 7” to “Action & Adventure starring Gene Hackman”.

Every genre, sub-genre, and category is designated a specific ID number that can be found if added to the Netflix URL. The Atlantic’s Alexis C. Madrigal ran a script that scraped all the ID numbers from the Netflix database, finding 76,897 micro-genres, all of which are available to browse in a Google Doc. Others ran with that, and combined the codes into genre URLs, such as this handy list.

“Netflix has meticulously analyzed and tagged every movie and TV show imaginable,” Madrigal wrote. “They possess a stockpile of data about Hollywood entertainment that is absolutely unprecedented. The genres that I scraped and that we caricature above are just the surface manifestation of this deeper database.”

Some of the listed categories don’t lead to anything, which is understandable considering Netflix rotates its video content – not to mention geographical variation – but most links are useful.

Warner Bros and Intel Sue Creators of 4K Copy Protection Stripper

Warner Bros. and Intel subsidiary Digital Content Protection have filed a lawsuit against LegendSky, the creator of the HDFury series of devices that can be used to bypass HDCP 2.2 copy protection on 4K video content.

4K video content flooded torrent sites at the end of November last year, indicating that the copy protection on these materials – in this case, primarily ripped from Netflix and Amazon Prime Video – had been cracked. The lawsuit filed by Warner Bros. and Digital Content Protection indicates that HDFury gear could have been responsible for obtaining this 4K content. The two plaintiffs accuse LegendSky of being in breach of DMCA’s anti-circumvention provisions and enabling copyright infringement.

“The HDFury Devices harm copyright owners like Warner Bros. because they enable Digital Content to be displayed without the protections of HDCP, thereby enabling users to access copyrighted works, make and/or distribute copies of copyrighted works […] all without the permission of the copyright owner,” Warner Bros.’ complaint, courtesy of TorrentFreak, reads. “The HDFury Devices harm DCP because, among other things, they undermine the effectiveness of HDCP, lower the value of HDCP, and thereby jeopardize DCP’s ability to license HDCP to Digital Device manufacturers and Digital Content owners.”

Warner Bros. recently announced its new line of Ultra-HD Blu-Ray releases.

Netflix Avoided Paying UK Corporation Tax Despite 4.5m Subscribers

Video-on-demand streaming service Netflix has witnessed a rapid rise in popularity in the UK since its launch there in 2012, boasting 4.5 million subscribers at last count, each paying a minimum of £5.99 a month, and yet the company did not pay a penny in corporation tax to the UK last year, according to a report in The Sunday Times (paywalled, via The Guardian).

Netflix brought in £200 million in revenue in 2014, but its profits were filed overseas, allowing the company to bypass paying any tax into the UK’s coffers. At the time, Netflix International BV was based in Luxembourg, meaning that the only tax it was legally liable for was 5% income tax to Luxembourg. The company has not broken any law, but is merely using an available loophole in UK tax policy to avoid any levies within the country.

A spokesperson for Netflix maintains that, while it continues its current international expansion plans, that it is making a loss overall. The spokesperson also added that its UK operation only employs 12 people and that it is “fully compliant with all applicable rules.”

The UK is Netflix’s second biggest market, after the US which boasts over £40 million subscribers, and is predicted to inflate its British customer base to 9.5 million by 2020.

Netflix Is Re-Encoding Its Media Collection in Order to Improve Quality

Netflix is undoubtedly one of the most popular media streaming platforms in the world, but this doesn’t mean that it’s perfect. When it comes to streaming videos across different connection speeds, Netflix has been using a complicated and somewhat flawed system, as it prepared different versions of the same video file depending on assumed internet speeds. In clearer terms, the service would store several copies of the same file for various connection speeds, but this took up a lot of space and wasn’t doing anything to improve overall quality. The solution comes in the form of separate encoding “rules” for each title, and we’re not talking about individual series here but about individual episodes.

By using this system, Netflix will now be able to ensure better quality streaming while using up to 20 percent less bandwidth, which is always nice. In order to make sure that everything would look perfect for customers, the company has tested these new streams internally with the help of its own employees. Even though some videos were streaming at 5800kbps and the others at 4640kbps, nobody could really spot any differences between them. Not too long ago, Netflix has added a series of “new” video samples to its media collection, while sources suggest that the full catalog is expected to be replaced in Q1 2016.

Amazon Instant Video to Bundle With Other VOD Services

Strong rumours suggest that Amazon Instant Video will soon include access to other video-on-demand networks, and could do so as soon as this December. According to Bloomberg, Amazon’s video streaming service is set to become the on-demand equivalent of a cable or satellite package, with the company even considering launching its own live channel through Amazon Prime.

While Amazon’s potential new partners have not been revealed – Amazon spokesperson Craig Berman refused to comment on the story – it would make sense for cable channels such as HBO and Showtime to bundle their existing video-on-demand services in an effort to expand their reach beyond existing US cable subscribers.

Amazon Instant Video has an estimated 43.2 million US subscribers, second only to Netflix, and the move can only attract more customers from its rival, especially if, say, Amazon Instant Video becomes the portal through which people get to watch the latest episode of Game of Thrones online, a privilege previously restricted to HBO Go subscribers.

The company is also in the preliminary planning stages to launch its own live channel, in partnership with CBS Corp. and Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal, to position itself against TV providers such as Comcast, AT&T, and Sky. Apple are reportedly pursuing a similar strategy.

4K Content From Netflix and Amazon Floods Torrent Sites

Did you spend all your money on a 4K television in the Black Friday sales, leaving you unable to afford food, clothing, or legal on-demand video streaming services? Well, fear not, because 4K content from Netflix and Amazon has hit torrent sites with a vengeance. Granted, it won’t fill your belly or cover your modesty, but who needs basic human comfort when you can watch Jessica Jones in Ultra HD?

Online video content is, more often than not, protected by High-Bandwidth Digital Copy Protection (HDCP) version 2.2 or higher, but pirates have discovered a loophole that allows them to bypass the protection and rip 4K video.

The first Ultra HD file – an 18GB copy of Breaking Bad’s first episode – hit three months ago, with more content expected to follow, but encoding problems and quality issues stymied the tide. Those issues seem to have now been resolved, though, with 4K copies of Marvel’s new small-screen offering Jessica Jones and movies such as Looper, Spider-Man, and The Bridge on the River Kwai leaking to torrent sites within the last few days, with many of the initial 100GB+ files being squeezed down to a more manageable 5-15GB.

“Many groups started releasing 4K rips recently and they are working perfectly. I expect that 4K resolution releases will become more popular now,” an anonymous source from a release group responsible for the recent 4K content told TorrentFreak.

Some of the content, though, has been criticised for its quality. For that, the source added, the blame should be aimed at Netflix itself: “For example for Marvel’s Jessica Jones new TV series from Netflix the 4K captures look bad, because the master from Netflix is probably bad [sic].”

Image courtesy of DealsPlus.

51 Percent of US Internet Users Watch Netflix

Streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, Hulu and others have revolutionized the way we watch video content. In the digital age, there’s no need to wait for your favourite TV shows, or watch a bunch of adverts, as streaming services offer instant gratification. Netflix is evidently the most popular choice due to the superb TV and film library. However, many customers outside the US have to use a VPN as content is restricted on a geographical basis. Nevertheless, the affordable pricing and huge range of shows in the USA is proving a popular combination and according to research firm RBC Capital Markets, 51 percent of US internet users watched content on Netflix during the last 12 months.

Netflix’s viewing figures as a percentage even surpassed YouTube which finished in second place. The data is intriguing and illustrates the popularity of streaming services. As a result, it’s perfectly feasible for traditional TV to struggle in the next decade as consumers expect more and become sick of TV scheduling. Furthermore, Netflix now offers a premium service capable of 4K streaming, which is bound to please customers with a brand new 4K television. Although, the company has gradually increased the subscription costs over time. Therefore, it’s unknown how expensive Netflix might be in the next few years.

Australian Netflix Launch Ushers Fall in Piracy

Making content available prevents piracy. Everyone knows it, including Hollywood (though, it’d rather use the situation as an excuse for suing users and screwing video-on-demand services). It’s so simple it shouldn’t need saying. Yet it does, over and over. The latest proof is the recent launch of video-on-demand service Netflix in Australia.

Since Netflix expanded to Australia in March of this year, there has been a 29% decrease in piracy amongst adults aged 18-64, with the number of adults in the same age bracket using video-on-demand services has risen by 32%, according to a survey conducted by the IP Awareness Foundation. While correlation does not prove causation, further answers given during the study indicated that at least one-third of former pirates put the rise of video-on-demand services forward as the reason for ceasing to download illegal content.

“Piracy has always needed a range of measures to tackle the problem as we all know there is no silver bullet. This fall in piracy rates is definitely largely attributable to the combination of the government’s new legislation, plus the ongoing efforts of the creative industries to continue delivering great content at accessible prices to Australian consumers and the work being done to educate consumers about the impact of copyright theft,” Lori Flekser, Executive Director of IP Awareness, said.

Now, if only we could do something about geo-blocking…

Thank you Kotaku for providing us with this information.