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Netflix and other streaming content producers are trying to walk a fine line when expanding overseas, with China high up on the list. However, trying to convince users to spend $7.99 on Netflix Instant, for example, is difficult in China, where Internet users typically pirate content for free. Chinese companies such as Sohu.com are interested in purchasing legitimate content which can then be offered to users in the country in a legal manner, with high-definition content also available.
The Chinese consumer market is huge, as the country reportedly has upwards of 600 million Internet users, according to Pew Research figures released in December 2013. As more users go mobile, Netflix and other content providers have a great chance of convincing users to jump onboard with pay-per-view and monthly subscription packages.
Chinese search engine Baidu and company QVOD were named the top video copyright violators in China last year, with the government reportedly interested in clamping down on some digital piracy.
Set-top box maker Roku is innovating and will spend more time in 2014 focused on supporting streaming services with custom partnerships alongside TV manufacturers. Roku's shift from set-top boxes and moving directly into app support for HDTV makers is a smart strategy for long-term longevity. All content is available on the Roku TV home screen, with the platform currently supporting more than 1,200 apps - and includes partners such as Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Pandora, and Rdio. All updates will be implemented by Roku and rolled out directly into the connected smart TVs.
TV makers TCL and Hisense are the first two manufacturers to jump onboard with Roku, though better known, higher-end companies should eventually jump into the fun. HDTVs supporting Roku TV models will be available fall 2014, with TV sizing expected to range from 32" up to 55".
"Consumers will enjoy the ease and satisfaction of Roku TV while manufacturers leverage our design specifications, content relationships and software expertise," said Anthony Wood, Roku CEO, in a press statement. "At the same time the content community will gain additional distribution and revenues through an already popular and trusted streaming platform - now in the TV."
Online streaming allows TV viewers to cut cords and access a wider library of TV episodes, movies, and other Web-based content.
TV broadcaster Fox Sports will provide free online streams of NFL Super Bowl XLVIII online at FoxSportsGo.com and through the FoxSportsGo iOS App. This is the third year in a row that the most watched sporting event in the United States will be available online - and is popular among mobile users and those without TV access.
Ad time continues to increase in price, so advertisers are branching out and finding new potential revenue streams in a competitive market. Focusing on smartphone, tablet, and PC users gives content providers new Internet-based advertising opportunities for targeted ads.
One of YouTube's three co-founders has debuted a new video sharing site. MixBit, introduced today on the heels of YouTube's "closing announcement", will allow the sharing of videos, much like YouTube, as well as the ability for content creators to collaborate and work together on projects.
Since @YouTube is ending, we're launching a new video site... Welcome to http://MixBit.com ! @MixBitApp This time it's not a contest!
MixBit.com isn't available just yet, though they note that "the future of video is launching soon!" The site was first teased during an interview at SXSW during which he said MixBit would provide "flexibility for people to work together and create content."
Details of the new site are still a bit scarce, but they will surely be forthcoming in the coming weeks.
Another competitor has emerged in the online streaming market. Redbox Instant, which had been undergoing a private beta for three months, has finally launched publicly. Subscribers will have access to 4,600 different titles and up to four Redbox DVD rentals for a mere $8 per month.
Netflix, meanwhile, is only offering streaming as their basic plan. It costs an additional $4.99 per month for just two DVDs, or unlimited DVDs for $7.99. There are still plenty of people who like watching movies on DVDs and it also allows Redbox to offer more choices. Redbox has the added advantage of already having a DVD distribution channel, which allows people to exchange DVDs nearly instantly.
Redbox Instant isn't quite ready to start producing original content, though they will likely have to to keep up with the likes of Netflix and Hulu.
The Verge interviewed the little known Netflix Chief Product Officer Neil Hunt. The interview broached numerous different topics, though most interesting takeaway was that Netflix expects to be streaming 4K content within one to two years. I'm still not convinced that streaming 4K will be easy to do within two years.
Netflix CPO Hunt:
Clearly we have much work to do with the compression and decode capability, but we expect to be delivering 4K within a year or two with at least some movies and then over time become an important source of 4K. 4K will likely be streamed first before it goes anywhere else.
He adds that they filmed House of Cards in 4K. Currently it's only available in full HD, but he says that the raw footage is actually 4K quality. "We hope to have some House of Cards 4K encodes later this year." You can read the full interview, which covers which clouds Netflix has looked at and many more topics, at the source linked below.
Photo filters have become all the rage as of late, and now video hosting giant Vimeo is looking to cash in on the recent trend. The video hosting service has just released a new feature dubbed "Looks".
Looks is the result of a partnership between Vimeo and Vivoom, and will bring over 500 visual effects that will allow users to enhance their videos like never before. The new Looks feature will be part of the service's Enhancer toolbox. What makes this new feature so cool, in my opinion, is that the filters can be previewed real time with no lengthy rendering wait time.
The feature will also be able to make filter recommendations based on "technical analysis of the user's video and social data". The new "Looks" feature will be available for free for all Vimeo account holders for the next 90 days, after that it is expected to move to a paid or subscription service.
Rovio continues to expand its marketing of the Angry Birds franchise and will be releasing "Angry Birds Toons" on March 16. Angry Birds Toons is a new animated cartoon that will take place on Piggy Island and feature the characters from the Angry Birds games. It will be released on the web only and lead up to the Angry Birds movie set for 2016.
Angry Birds Toons is an all-new animated series that throws the doors to Piggy Island wide open! For the first time ever, you can get up close and personal with your favorite characters. Join us every week starting the weekend of March 16th for a brand new episode featuring the latest adventures of the birds and pigs!
A new episode will be released each week on the Angry Birds Toons' website. It's not clear if the characters will talk, as in the preview above, they don't. This is likely a cartoon show aimed at little kids, though it's not clear how many little kids will know how to find it online.
Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has described the fourth season of Arrested Development as a "one-off" that would likely be "non-repeatable" due to the circumstances surrounding the actors and series. A company spokesperson added that it would be "extremely difficult to get the cast together" for additional seasons.
The actors in the series are busy doing other movies and shows that are a higher priority than Arrested Development, which is a disappointment for fans of the show who would like more seasons produced. We likely won't see the actors back together until Arrested Development hits the movie screen.
YouTube has posted on their blog about how Gangnam Style has officially hit 1 billion views, the first video to ever do so. The next highest song, and the previous record holder for most views is Justin Bieber's "Baby." We had posted that the moment was coming earlier, but it has now officially past the mark, with no damage to the Earth caused.
If you check out the awesome chart by YouTube, seen above, you can see how much quicker Gangnam Style took off compared to Justin Bieber's "Baby." PSY has many more cool stats to go with the one billion views, but that is probably the best of them all.