Tag Archives: subscription

Binge watching on Netflix no longer requires internet access

Netflix subscribers can now binge on many of their favorite shows and movies even when they don’t have an internet connection.

The long-awaited offline option announced this week gives Netflix’s 87 million subscribers offline access to videos for the first time in the streaming service’s decade-long history.

Netflix is matching a downloading feature that one of its biggest rivals, Amazon.com, has been offering to its video subscribers for the past year. It’s something that also has been available on YouTube’s popular video site, though a subscription is required in the U.S. and other countries where the site sells its “Red” premium service.

The new feature puts Netflix a step ahead of two other major rivals. Offline options aren’t available on HBO’s internet-only package, HBO Now, or Hulu, although that service has publicly said it hopes to introduce a downloading feature.

Netflix subscribers wishing to download a video on their smartphone or tablet need to update the app on their Apple or Android device.

Not all of the selections in Netflix’s video library can be downloaded, although several of the service’s most popular shows, including “Orange Is The New Black,” “House of Cards,” and “Stranger Things,” are now available to watch offline.

Downloadable movies include “Spotlight,” this year’s Oscar winner for best film. Notably missing from the downloadable menu are movies and TV shows made by Walt Disney Co. Those still require an internet connection to watch on Netflix.

The Los Gatos, California, company is promising to continue to adding more titles to its offline roster.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had long resisted calls for an offline-viewing option, much to the frustration of customers who wanted flexibility to use their subscriptions to watch a show or movie when traveling on a train, plane or car where internet connections are spotty or completely unavailable.

Earlier this year, Hastings finally indicated he might relent and introduce downloading.

The change of heart coincided with Netflix’s expansion into more than 130 countries, including many areas with shoddy or expensive internet connections that make the ability to watch video offline even more appealing.

Netflix ended September with 39 million subscribers outside of the U.S.

The offline option may accelerate the decline of Netflix’s steadily shrinking DVD-by-mail service, which offers the ability to watch video without an internet connection. Netflix’s DVD side still has one distinct advantage — access to recent theatrical releases before they are available for streaming.

Netflix’s DVD service ended September with 4.3 million subscribers, a decrease of nearly 10 million customers during the past five years.

Free episodes to disappear from Hulu

Hulu is dropping free TV episode as it works on an online television service to rival cable TV.

Free episodes — typically the most recent four or five episodes from a show’s current season — will be gone from the site within a few weeks. Instead, Hulu is making free episodes available through Yahoo.

While Hulu started as a free site, supported by advertising, free video has become increasingly more difficult to find as Hulu tries to lure viewers into a subscription — $8 a month for a plan with ads, and $12 without. In recent months, visitors to Hulu.com have been presented with prominent links to subscribe, with links to free video buried in a menu after signing in.

And free episodes haven’t been available on Hulu’s mobile apps or streaming-TV devices, just on Hulu.com from a traditional computer. Now, they won’t be on Hulu.com at all.

Devotees of Hulu’s free on-demand videos will be able to find them by visiting the new Yahoo View site from a computer. The Yahoo site will not have free episodes of CW shows such as “Arrow” and “The Flash,” as Hulu has been offering, because CW has a broader deal with Netflix instead. Yahoo says it will have the past five episodes of ABC, NBC and Fox shows available. The Fox shows will appear eight days after their TV airing, as is the practice at Hulu.com now. Yahoo will also have some older CBS shows.

The episodes on Yahoo are not currently available on a phone, although Yahoo is working on a mobile web version and an app. Yahoo says the mobile version will be free, but it may not have all the same video as the desktop computer site because of content licensing restrictions.

Hulu says relatively few people watch the free videos. It now has about 12 million subscribers who pay for original shows, the entire current seasons of some network shows and access to Hulu’s library on mobile and streaming-TV devices like Roku.

Hulu also plans to launch a live online TV service next year. It would show broadcast and cable channels in real time, without making viewers wait until the next day for episodes. In a move that could make that service more appealing, Time Warner Inc. recently took a 10 percent stake in Hulu, joining the TV and movie conglomerates — Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox and Comcast’s NBCUniversal — that already owned it. Time Warner plans to contribute some of its channels, including TNT and TBS, to the new service.

Several other companies already offer live, paid TV over the internet, including Sony and Dish. DirecTV plans a service for later this year as well.

Yahoo also has broader ambitions for View. It wants to add video from other Yahoo properties and from other networks and studios. However, its previous attempt at an online video hub, Yahoo Screen, shut down in January, despite having new episodes of the cult comedy “Community” after its cancellation by NBC.

Verizon, which is buying Yahoo to help the phone company grow a digital advertising business , makes TV episodes and short videos available on its go90 mobile app. Phil Lynch, the head of media and content partnerships at Yahoo, says that as the deal gets closer to closing early next year, it “makes sense that we have integration discussions.”

New online site BroadwayHD offers to stream live theater

A new online streaming service launches this week that hopes to one day become the Netflix of Broadway, offering high-definition broadcasts of top theatrical events to computers and phones.

BroadwayHD currently has a modest list of plays and musicals ready to stream but hopes to eventually be the place where theater fans and educators turn for their live event fix.

It was founded by Broadway producers Stewart F. Lane and Bonnie Comley, a Tony Award-winning husband-and-wife producing team behind such shows as “On Your Feet!” “A Gentleman’s Guide to Love & Murder” and “Legally Blonde.”

“We’re not going to replace the Broadway experience, but if you can’t get to Broadway, get to BroadwayHD,” said Lane. “Hopefully it will whet your appetite to go see it live.”

Users can buy a monthly subscription for $14.99 and or a yearly one for $169.99. There’s also free content. The shows can be streamed to computers, mobile devices and TVs — both Apple TV or Google Chromecast.

While sites such as iTunes, Amazon Video, Netflix and GooglePlay stream musicals and plays on phones and tablets, BroadwayHD hopes to become the go-to library to find live-captured theatrical events, whether from off-Broadway or the West End, after a show has been seen in cinemas or on cable TV.

While the service currently leans heavily on the archives of the BBC, WNET-TV in New York and Broadway Worldwide, the creators hope they will be able to expand their titles with partnerships and their own captures. They’ve also added commentaries, introductions and documentaries.

Offerings at launch include more than 120 productions, mostly classics from Shakespeare and Anton Chekov. “A lot of it is classic archival pieces, but then we start layering in the new things and go out and start shooting new shows,” Comley said. “We’re looking for this to be the landing place.”

The site comes at a time when so-called event cinema has exploded. When once there was just the Metropolitan Opera at the movie theater, now there’s the Bolshoi Ballet, concerts from One Direction, circuses and a steady stream of English plays.

To those who sneer at reducing a live Broadway show to the size of an iPhone screen, Lane responds by pointing out that people also said the theater experience would be diluted when microphones were introduced.

“This is part of an evolution,” he said. “We’re never going to replace the communal experience of seeing actors live. I understand that. New York has an amazing caliber of talent _ of writers, directors and performers _ that we’d like to share with the world. If they can’t get here in time, we can share that with the world in the best way we can.”

A sample of what you can now find on BroadwayHD includes Orlando Bloom in the 2013 Broadway revival of “Romeo and Juliet,” a live “Jekyll & Hyde” with David Hasselhoff in 2001, Helen Mirren in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” Montego Glover and Chad Kimball in “Memphis,” Daniel Craig and Stephen Rea in “Copenhagen” from a BBC TV movie in 2002, and Rufus Sewel in “Henry IV.” Up next will be Audra McDonald as Billie Holiday in “Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill” after it airs on HBO.

“There’s plenty of stuff out there but what we’re trying to do is have anecdotal evidence for producers and all of the creatives to see where this goes,” Comley said.

On the Web…

https://www.broadwayhd.com

Netflix joining program lineup of 3 cable-TV providers

Netflix’s Internet video service is about to join the programming lineup of three small cable-TV providers in the U.S., a breakthrough that acknowledges the growing popularity of online entertainment.

The agreements with Atlantic Broadband, RCN Telecom Services and Grande Communications gives Netflix’s subscription service a channel on the TiVo boxes that the three cable services provide their customers. Netflix will debut on Atlantic and RCN on Monday and then will expand on to Grande’s service by end of next month.

Collectively, the three cable-TV services have about 820,000 subscribers scattered through nine states and Washington D.C.

Although that’s a small fraction of the cable-TV market, the deals represent another milestone for Netflix Inc. as it tries to make its Internet video service more like premium channels such as HBO and Showtime.

Netflix already had landed spots on the cable-TV boxes of services in England, Denmark and Sweden, but hadn’t been able to make similar inroads in the U.S. until now. The company’s nearly 36 million U.S. subscribers typically have to buy a separate device, such as video game console or a player from Roku or Apple Inc., if they want to stream video on to their TVs. That method usually requires a separate remote and an additional step to flip over to a different TV input to see the picture.

Now, Netflix will be like any other channel on the cable-TV dial except that it relies on a high-speed Internet connection to deliver its video.

“We think this signals a new generation of cable-TV service of offerings,” said David Isenberg, Atlantic’s chief marketing and strategy officer. “It’s a watershed moment.”

He likened what Netflix is doing for Internet video to what HBO did for cable-TV when that service began transmitting through satellites in the early 1970s.

Netflix has been striving to become more HBO-like since it expanded upon its DVD-by-mail service and began offering Internet streaming seven years ago. In the past two years, the Los Gatos, Calif., company has been featuring more original programming, such as the critically acclaimed “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black,” to persuade more U.S. subscribers to pay $8 per month for its service.

To help pay for its rising programming costs, Netflix plans to raise its prices by $1 or $2 by July. The higher prices initially will only affect new customers.

HBO, which is owned by Time Warner Inc., views Netflix as such a competitive threat that it has steadfastly refused to licenses its old TV shows, such as “The Sopranos” and “The Wire,” to the Internet video service. Those HBO shows instead will be streamed through a rival Internet video service offered through Amazon.com Inc.’s Prime shipping service as part of deal announced earlier this week.

“HBO fears Netflix’s growing industry power,” BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield wrote in a Thursday blog post. “We suspect HBO wanted to balance Netflix’s growing media industry hegemony by helping to bolster their largest direct-to-consumer … competitor – Amazon.”

Unlike their partnerships with HBO and Showtime, the cable-TV providers aren’t offering a Netflix subscription as part of their bundled packages. People will still have to open a Netflix account through the company’s website or mobile application, although Atlantic is trying to make that process easier by offering a way to sign up on the TV screen.

Netflix is still hoping to be added to the programming lineup of a major cable-TV service. It seems unlikely that Netflix will make its way onto a cable box offered by the biggest service, Comcast Corp any time soon. The relationship between the two companies has grown frosty because Netflix is opposing Comcast’s proposed $45 billion purchase of another major cable-TV service, Time Warner Cable Inc.

RCN Telecom has 440,00 subscribers in Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago and Leigh Valley, Pa. Atlantic, which is owned by Canada’s Cogeco Cable, has 230,000 subscribers in western Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, Miami Beach, Fla. and Aiken, S.C. Grande has 150,000 subscribers in Texas.