If there’s one trend that’s become a focal point in the age of digital video streaming it’s exclusivity. This has become very apparent in the way established services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video have treated their original shows. Want to watch a show like Orange Is The New Black or The Man In The High Castle? You’ll have to pay for individual accounts on the services responsible for producing those shows. Otherwise, you’re going to miss something.
HBO was hardly on the cutting edge of video streaming when it launched its HBO Now service that allows users to watch HBO shows without a cable subscription. In fact, HBO is as close to a legacy provider as premium paid video gets, with its roots going all the way back to the earliest days of widespread cable television distribution. It was only a matter of time after launching HBO Now that the company would begin to circle the wagons around its own product. And with a recent announcement that HBO will be removing its shows from Amazon Prime Video, the company is doing just that.
If you’re currently getting your Game of Thrones or Sopranos fixes thru Amazon, don’t fret. The move won’t be made right away. HBO shows should still be available on Amazon’s platform until the middle of 2018. But once the change takes hold, the only places HBO shows will still be available will either be on paid satellite TV services or HBO’s official apps.
Cable-cutters, rejoice! HBO is going to be offered as a stand-alone streaming service in 2015. I would like to be optimistic and presume that this news will be followed by other offers of a similar nature for other cable channels. Could this be the start of a-la-carte cable? (Admittedly, what I have just written is mostly speculation.)
What is absolutely true is that Chairman and CEO of HBO, Richard Plepler, announced at a Time Warner Inc. Investor Meeting that the company will offer a stand-alone HBO streaming service in 2015. He said:
“So, in 2015, we will launch a stand-alone, over-the-top, HBO service in the United States. We will work with our current partners. And, we will explore models with new partners. All in, there are 80 million homes that do not have HBO and we will use all means at our disposal to go after them.”
The Washington Post notes that it has not been said exactly how much this new service will cost. It also hasn’t been made clear what content, specifically, will be offered through it.
There is some speculation going around online about what the cost might be. How will it compare to the cost of Netflix or Hulu? Will the stand-alone HBO streaming service eventually be offered outside the US? We will have to wait and see what happens.
One of the biggest frustrations for cord cutters is they cannot get premium TV shows from HBO or Showtime. Well, HBO has changed that (in a way). Shows like Game of Thrones, the Newsroom, True Blood and more will be found on Google Play starting at $1.99 per episode. You can even get full seasons at $19.
HBO said this was just the beginning of their partnership with Google Play. According to an article on Engadget, they plan to put more content up soon – including older shows and documentaries.
A la carte options are very similar to what iTunes does. I used to get all my episodes of Mad Men and Breaking Bad for $35. Only downfall is I would have to wait 24 hours for the shows to be uploaded and cataloged in iTunes.
This also doesn’t void any contracts with cable companies.
HBO will be rolling this out in the coming months.
Last night at the Emmys, Netflix took a win by taking the Best Director prize for his original “House of Cards”. One of a few original shows you can get when you subscribe to Netflix.
Although they didn’t sweep the Emmys by any means, Netflix’s win shows an award winning TV program can be found through streaming media. It also means publishing a series all at once does not change the fact it’s an Emmy contender.
This Emmy could bring more original independent works to Netflix. It doesn’t mean they all can win Emmy’s – as Netflix’s store-bought “Arrested Development” and prison show “Orange is the New Black” shows us. However, Netflix now can show and compete with premium channel content such as those shows found on HBO and Showtime.
Binge Watching or Weekly Episodes?
House of Cards was released all at once – causing people to “Binge-watch”. This might also cause people to go over to a friends’ house for 12 hours and not invest in the service themselves. If Netflix plans to put out a regular schedule of shows, will the same model be relevant? Will putting out 1-2 episodes weekly be a better alternative?
A couple years back, Netflix had a contract with Starz; along with that the rights to Starz original programming. At the time, Sparticus was in it’s first season. You could watch Starz live from Netflix (SD through Internet Explorer) or wait a couple days for the episode to show up in the streaming section.
There is one big advantage to weekly episodes – build-up to the next week. AMC has really taken the lead on this with their “Talking Dead” talk show right after the episodes air. New guests on the show make it for a great companion to the Walking Dead – and you stay on AMC for another 30 minutes.
Of course the other advantage to weekly episodes would be subscribers – instead of someone going to a friend’s house to binge-watch, they just pay the $8 a month and watch at their convenience.
So congratulations to Netflix and House of Cards for disrupting the Emmys. I can’t wait to see what other streaming content will be part of next year’s Emmys.
Back in Hawaii for two shows, headed to the NAB Show this coming Friday will likely be a crazy schedule once the show starts. Lots of moving parts, but as always great tech coming your way from the best tech show on earth. ;)
The group over at TorrentFreak.com have come up with the top ten pirated shows this last year. They collected information from many Torrent Trackers to come up with this list. This list is US only.
Dexter, the show about a serial murderer who kills bad guys topped this years most downloaded list at 3.6 million downloads. Game of Thrones was second, and CBS’s “Big Bang Theory” hit third.
Terra Nova is the surprise – 8th place at 1.9 million. This is a show that is on the verge of cancellation by Fox. So does a number like this mean there is still hope for this show?
Some good news is these numbers are declining. Web streaming sites like Hulu give people a chance to see their shows on their schedule. In return, they don’t have to search for the latest episode.
However, shows like Dexter and True Blood – which are on premium channels Showtime and HBO – don’t show up on Hulu. A season of these episodes might take 2 years before they land on Netflix streaming. You can buy seasons at the conclusion through sites like Amazon, and rent shortly through Blockbuster or Netflix DVD.
Five network TV shows ended up on the list – Big Bang Theory, House, How I Met Your Mother, Glee, and Terra Nova. TorrenkFreak deduces these are mostly downloads for people who are overseas and do not have access to Hulu.
I watch over a lot in the Over the Top Television space. Internet TV, IPTV, whatever you want to call it, it’s a great way to get watchable content without having a full cable lineup.
Last week, Steve Ballmer announced their TV initiative over XBox Live. Over 40 providers have signed up for this venture, including Comcast, HBO, BBC, Rodgers on Demand (Canada), Televisa (Mexico), and other countries including Germany and Italy (20 in all). Best part, if you already have an XBox 360, you have the hardware to do this.
“Today’s announcement is a major step toward realizing our vision to bring you all the entertainment you want, shared with the people you care about, made easy,” said Don Mattrick, president of the Interactive Entertainment Business at Microsoft. “Combining the world’s leading TV and entertainment providers with the power of Kinect for Xbox 360 and the intelligence of Bing voice search will make TV and entertainment more personal, social and effortless.” – Press Release
Add to conventional TV line-up the on-line video providers like Crackle, YouTube, Zune and more. Then there is audio content from Last.fm and iHeartRadio. Finally, Social networks like Twitter and Facebook to round off the service.
The Game System that Became More
Whereas companies like Roku that integrated smaller games like Angry Birds, XBox won’t have that problem. It’s a game system over a TV content distributor. You can play Gears of War, Tweet about it, then watch a video on how to play Gears of War (or another show).
Unified Dashboard in XBox Live
With the unified dashboard (looking similar to the Zune software), you can browse your shows, play the games, work your social networks and more. You will connect to the Comcast Xfinity service to get all that service has to offer.
Getting Rid of the Remote with Kinect
This might be the best part about the XBox TV. By using voice controls and your Kinect, you can gesture to a channel, play, pause and move on. It might get harry if you have more than one person wanting to watch different shows. Still, could you imagine a world without a remote control?
It won’t all be free, though.
Right now, to get HBO Go, you need to have a cable subscription with HBO. I don’t expect that to change anytime soon – especially with channels like HuluPlus. Of course, that is just like many of the OTT systems out there. Pay for a subscription and get the content.
Once again, there could be conflict if you have multiple family members where one wants to play a game and the other wants to watch a movie. So this might not replace a cable box or DVR just yet.
The Xbox Live TV service is expected to come out before the holiday season. The announcement comes before then so you can plan purchasing an XBox 360 or Kinect system for your loved ones to connect up quick. While the OTT solution is more pricey than a Roku or Apple TV, it does do more than just watch video, view pictures or listen to music. It also has some great game titles. It also has a new way to browse through your content.