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One of the biggest streaming services across nearly everyone's mobile devices has got to be Pandora, although I'm a bigger fan of Spotify. The extremely popular music streaming service has nearly never had any sort of hiccups, but in a skit on Saturday Night Live that aired this weekend, Pandora ran into a little bit of trouble.
The skit started with just another flawless day in Pandora's HQ, but a power outage caused the serious hiccup in its online stream throughout a number of its artist's channels. Thankfully, a lowly intern, who was played by SNL host Bruno Mars, came to the company's rescue as he was able to mimic a number of of artist's iconic sounds like Green Day, Aerosmith and even Katy Perry.
Without looking into the absurdity of one of Pandora's employees being able to karaoke their way through a song without the listeners noticing, the skit was actually pretty good and Bruno kept it together through his performances of other artist's music.
Google has struck a deal with Twentieth Century Fox that will see Stewie Griffen and family coming to YouTube and Google Play. And it's not only Family Guy that is coming, Google will be adding over 600 other TV shows and movies to the collection that is available to rent or buy through YouTube and Google Play.
For example, today you can buy Prometheus in HD. Prometheus isn't due out on Blu-ray, DVD, or on-demand video for another three weeks. According to Google, "over the next few weeks you'll be able to rent or buy your favorite Fox movies like X-Men, Ice Age and Black Swan, and TV shows like 'Glee,' 'Modern Family,' 'New Girl' and many more."
Google is continuing to work on expanding as a content provider instead of just a content indexer. Google is now reportedly working with all six of the major film studios and many independent studios to bring you your favorite content. These new titles will be available in the US at first and Google will work to bring them to other countries.
37 billion. That's the number of online videos watched by Americans last month. In the United States, ComScore found that 181 million users watched 37 billion online videos last month. That means that 84.5% of United States Internet users watched at least one video last month. Incredibly, the average person watched 21.8 hours of video during the month.
Of course, Google grabbed the large majority of the viewers with 157.7. Second place went to Yahoo with only 53.6 million. Beyond that was Vevo, Facebook, and Microsoft with 49.5, 44.3, and 42.8 million viewers respectively. Hulu was even further down the list grabbing only 28.2 million views yet they came in just behind Google in terms of total time spent by the average user at 3.8 hours.
Video ads were also shown quite a few times in order to pay for the videos. 9.5 billion video ads were shown to users last month with Hulu showing the majority of those ads. This fact isn't surprising as viewers have to sit through the ads in the middle of their favorite TV shows. Video ads also accounted for 20.5% of all videos watched last month.
Netflix took a pretty big hit last year when it announced pricing changes to its plans. However, today a Netflix executive has come out and said that he believes they have taken the brand hit from those changes. Netflix has rebounded in the first quarter, but scared off investors slightly with talk of its competitors.
Netflix CFO David Wells spoke at the J.P. Morgan Technology Media and Telecom conference and talked about customer satisfaction, churn, and overall feeling towards Netflix. As Netflix nears the one year mark of the changes that consumers hated, CFO paints a bright future through the fact that one third of new customers are actually returning customers:
I think we're feeling really good about the brand, the progression that we had from last year. We think there's room to grow, but the improvements in retention and our growth in Q1 and Q2 since Q3 and Q4 of last year make us feel pretty good. Rejoined or folks rejoining the service still remain about a third of our new subscribers that are coming in. So that is an encouraging stat. We think, we've said before that the brand hit will take years to recover from and I think that's still true, with the bulk of the recovery coming in the full year and I think we still feel that way.
A customer falls into the category of a returning new customer if they rejoin within a year. As new customers sign up, Netflix compares the address and credit card data to previous customers.
Netflix and Sony have announced today that the Netflix app is now available on the Sony Entertainment Network for any 2012 Bravia Blu-Ray or Blu-Ray player made by Sony. This new app will allow users to stream any video or television show they would like, straight to their Blu-Ray player. This joins the numerous other apps that Sony already provides on the Sony Entertainment Network.
This new announcement comes at an interesting time for Netflix. Wall Street investors aren't exactly in love with Netflix right now, even though they had a good first quarter. Investors are remembering 2011 instead of looking at Q1 2012 results. Additionally, analysts are predicting only a 200,000 subscriber increase for the second quarter compared to the 1.3 million of the first.
In a move designed to further differentiate itself from its competitors Netflix, Amazon and HBO Go, earlier this year Hulu announced it would spend $500 million on original content. Today brings Hulu's announcement that it is creating four new original shows to add to its vast library of online shows.
The announcement provided a brief synopsis for each of the upcoming shows that it plans to create. It also includes release dates for 2, and names and talent that will be involved with each show. The first two shows have release dates of 2012 and 2013 whereas the latter two have yet to receive a set date.
Hulu does have some competition in the original online show area. Netflix, too, is funding the creation of original content for its subscribers. This year, Netflix released Lilyhammer and plans to add House of Cards. They also are bringing back Arrested Development which happens to be a favorite of mine. I might just have to get Netflix after all.
A new report is out that shows Hulu Plus's growth is accelerating. January of this year saw Hulu Plus reach 1.5 million subscribers, so if this report is true, Hulu managed to add 500,000 subscribers in just 4 months. That rate well outpaces the previous rate of adding about 1,000,000 per year. Nothing official has come from the company just yet.
"We grew the business 60 percent from 2010 to approximately $420 million in revenue [in 2011]," Hulu CEO Jason Kilar said in January. "We exceeded our plan despite the soft advertising market (economy) in the second half of 2011.... Hulu Plus now has more than 1.5 million paying subscribers."
The report comes from the New York Times which states that the company will announce this week that it has hit 2 million subscribers. 2011 saw Hulu add 1.1 million subscribers. The previous 4 months saw them add 500,000. If this pace continues, they are on track to gain 1.5 million new subscribers this year.
Netflix, at its peak, was adding 1 million subscribers per quarter, or just about 3 times as many as Hulu is set to add this year. But Hulu has adjusted its strategy a little and that could account for the increase. They have started to air original content such as "Battleground." They are also set to release "Up To Speed" over summer. With original content, they are now said to be holding an "upfront" this Thursday.
Sony's Video Unlimited - preview, a new app to experience a new, intuitive way to navigate online video
Sony has announced their new video store application which includes a snazzy new intuitive interface which allows easier and smarter navigation, "Video Unlimited - preview" is available right now for PlayStation Plus subscribers who are living in the United States or Canada. PS Plus subscribers can download the new application and experience a new way to navigate and discover video content on the PlayStation 3. While mirroring content found on the existing PlayStation Store video delivery service, the new app delivers a totally fresh experience by providing endless related search results via a whole new way to discover content for purchase and or rent.
All PlayStation Network users will gain access to "Video Unlimited - preview" on October 11, 2011. The new UI does indeed look very, very nice and the search functions look surprisingly easy to use. Hopefully this trickles down to all Sony-related gear in the future!
What I think people will love about it is shown in the video below. Being able to browse a movie, then say an actor within that movie. Once within the actors details, it'll show their movies in a list. You can then browse into that movie and then dive into a new category, say, "action". Within "action", it'll display a list of action movies. It's intuitive enough that it just seems so, so easy and you'll think "why hasn't anyone done this before?". It really does feel fresh.
Further to recent video editing/tweaking additions over at YouTube, a fresh update rolls in a few more to manipulate your existing and future video uploads.
There's now the ability to convert your 2D video clips into 3D via a one click operation, as well as being given a couple more video creation platforms - Vlix and Magisto to add more effects or do some short clip editing.
To do the 3D conversion, you just select 'Edit Info' and then click the '3D Video' button. The process is fairly quick and the end result is a link pointing to your 3D video.
As for the Vlix and Magisto additions, you can make use of those via youtube.com/create.
Another one of the new updates includes a 15-minute upload limit for more users. You are more likely to be granted this if you've got a clean track record and have completed an account verification.
Skype for Windows 5.5 saw Facebook integration but now Mac-based users will get the same great feature. Skype 5.4 beta allows you to do things like chat with your Facebook friends, read and update your news feel and even "like" posts, all directly from Skype. It doesn't include a revamped or new-looking UI which means most people might stick to version 2.8 for now. For those who want to hit up some Facebook integration, grab Skype 5.4 beta!