Today is a pretty big day in the internet TV universe: Dish Network’s new streaming service, Sling TV, went live for preregistered customers as a first move toward a la carte channel selection by a pay-TV aggregator. Although a half-step toward true liberation from tiered cable — because you still have to buy a bundle of streaming channels – there is no contract and its costs $20 a month. I haven’t tried it yet but that seems like a pretty good deal for live streams and some on-demand content from a dozen basic cable channels like CNN, ESPN and ESPN2, the Travel Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TNT, TBS, the Disney Channel, ABC Family and Cartoon Network.
Reviews have been mixed, with some in the tech press criticizing the interface as “not ready for prime time,” and others comparing the weird conglomeration of live TV and limited on-demand content negatively with Netflix and Amazon Instant Video. But most saw this baby step into a new dawn of television and movie watching as positive. Dish is still issuing invitations to Sling TV for those who preregister, so give it a whirl and let me know what you think.
A job listing for a language specialist on Netflix’s web site gives us clues about where the internet television channel may expand internationally in 2015 and beyond. The job description asked for native speakers of Arabic, Hungarian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Polish and Vietnamese who would “translat(e) content materials and customiz(e) marketing for target markets…”
The company already has announced it launch into Australia and New Zealand in March. Here is the Bloomberg story and the job listing that brought these far-flung international ambitions to our attention.
This survey by Leichtman Research Group about DVR use uncovers a couple of home entertainment trends that goosed up Netflix’s share price today: first, that people are spending a lot of money on DVRs so as not to be tied to a TV schedule, and second, that a hefty chunk of cable subscribers also pay for Netflix and use it every day.
Here are a few more interesting points from the survey, followed by the link to the report:
- 36% of pay-TV subscribers get Netflix — compared to 48% of non-subscribers
- 36% of Netflix subscribers stream video daily, and 72% weekly — up from 10% daily, and 43% weekly in 2010
- 32% of pay-TV subscribers with Netflix stream Netflix daily — compared to 53% of non-subscribers with Netflix
At first, the strange intrigue around “The Interview” seemed like a brilliant ploy by Sony to get attention for a holiday release that, though controversial, looked like a box office dud. The whole thing, delightfully nasty leaked emails aside, looked like a marketing plan gone terribly wrong.
I mean, look at this message from the purported North Korean hackers:
“The world will be full of fear. Remember the 11th of September 2001. We recommend you to keep yourself distant from the places at that time. (If your house is nearby, you’d better leave.)”
It reads like a line from a South Park movie.
Well, Sony has now pulled the movie’s Christmas Day release and Homeland Security’s involved so it must be real. Some want to let pirates distribute it. But Sony can turn this lump of coal into a great gift for consumers — by simply switching the theatrical release to a streaming release.
“The Interview” could be the best test case ever for releasing a first-run movie via streaming now that the viewing public has been primed by round-the-clock publicity. Terror threats presumably would not be part of a normal first-run streaming release but the necessity, in the case of “The Interview,” of moving the whole shebang online to avoid violence creates an interesting paradigm for future releases. It would be cool to watch uncut interviews from the movie junkets, maybe a fake red carpet (shot on a soundstage) and all the trailers in one place as part of the price of admission.
Of course, Netflix, Amazon and Hulu may not want to touch this because of potential hacking danger to their own online systems, but it is a real shame that this threat could stop even a supposedly silly movie like “The Interview” from being seen.
I got to playing with my AppleTV last weekend after a long-delayed software update and spent an embarrassing amount of time on Vimeo, a curated channel for indie filmmakers. Streaming TV is giving audiences access to amazing and innovative content — in the same way that Netflix and Blockbuster Online brought the independent film movement mainstream. This little animated short was one of my favorites: http://vimeo.com/82542938
Here’s a list of the main streaming services and how they work.