HBO Takes On Netflix In The Nordics, With Its Own Streaming Video Service

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HBO is going to launch its first significant over-the-top offering, and it’s going to do so in one of the same markets as Netflix. The service, called HBO Nordic, will be launched in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, and Finland in mid-October, and could provide some interesting competition to Netflix, which will also soon be entering that region.

HBO Nordic is a joint venture between Home Box Office and Parsifal International, which will help bring the company’s original programming to the region. Viewers in the Nordic states will have multiple ways of getting HBO Nordic: it will launch a premium, 24-hour live channel that will be distributed through local TV providers. But HBO Nordic will also be available direct to consumers as an on-demand, over-the-top video offering that will cost less than €10 per month.

The content offering will be similar to its online HBO GO service in the U.S., which makes all HBO original programming available online. That will include its current slate of shows, such as Boardwalk Empire, Game of Thrones, and True Blood, as well as older series such as The Wire and Sex and the City. In addition, it will have other content available, including series premiering in the Nordics such as Magic City, Hit and Miss, Continuum, and Borgia. It will also include major feature films from Hollywood and international studios, local distributors, and independents.

The offering will be HBO’s first major over-the-top offering, but it will also be put it in direct competition with Netflix for the first time. Netflix announced a few weeks ago that it would be launching in Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland by the end of the year. While the two video providers both have content available in many of the same markets, they haven’t yet competed with the same business model.

Netflix operates a streaming-only video service that it sells direct to consumers, but this is HBO’s first major attempt at making its content available to all viewers online. In the U.S., HBO GO is only available to those who subscribe to its premium content network. And in many other international markets, HBO licenses its content to local distributors. So it will be an interesting experiment for the network.

Original article provided by TechCrunch

Amazon Partners With EPIX, Brings 3,000 More Titles To Prime Instant Video

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Amazon’s steady growth in building up its Amazon Prime Instant Video collection continues today with yet another deal with a content provider: this time, EPIX, a newer, premium channel with access to a selection of movies, comedy, music and sports events. Amazon says that the deal means “thousands” of new titles will join its video collection, including those from EPIX’s studio partners, Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Pictures, and Lionsgate – some of which Amazon already has independent agreements with already, such as the Paramount deal announced this May.

According to the company, EPIX’s deal will more than double the number of titles available in Prime Instant Video since the Kindle Fire was introduced last September. However, in terms of where the library was in last month, it’s a more standard increase.

When Amazon announced a similar agreement with ESPN in August, the total number of movies and TV shows available was at 22,000. Today, following the EPIX deal, it’s 25,000. The Instant Video collection, to be clear, is a subset of Amazon’s video library, which includes over 120,000 titles available for streaming, rent or purchase. These titles can be played on Amazon’s Kindle Fire, PlayStation 3, Xbox, Roku, iPad  and other devices, including desktop and laptop computers.

EPIX specifically brings some popular new releases, including The Avengers, Iron Man 2, The Hunger Games, Transformers: Dark of the Moon, Thor and Rango as well as popular favorites such as Kick Ass, Paranormal Activity 2, True Grit, The Lincoln Lawyer, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. And it will bring original programming such as comedy specials and concerts like Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell and Usher: Live from London.

Notably, these are movies which Amazon has gained following the expiration of Netflix’s exclusive deal with Epix, a joint venture between Viacom subdivision Paramount Pictures, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Lionsgate. While Netflix will have non-exclusive Epix content for another year, it may be impacted by the appearance of some of these titles on Amazon and elsewhere, as consumers’ choice in streaming service providers broadens.

This news comes ahead of a press conference Amazon is holding this week in Los Angeles, where it’s expected the retailer will announce new versions of its Kindle tablets.

Original article provided by TechCrunch

Netflix Subscriber Additions Disappoint

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Netflix’s third-quarter 2012 earnings report just came out, with revenue reaching $905 million for the quarter, up from $822 million last year. It’s also in line with Wall Street’s consensus forecast of $904 million. It reported earnings per share of $0.13, compared to $1.16 last year and above analyst expectations of $0.05 a share.

But all eyes were on the subscription video company’s subscription numbers, as it tries to jumpstart lagging growth in the U.S. while also growing overseas. Netflix reported 25.1 million U.S. subscribers for the quarter, adding 1.16 million in the quarter. That’s compared to its forecast of 1 million to 1.8 million new adds.

The company previously forecast that it would add 7 million domestic subscribers this year, and had added 2.1 million through the first half. The fourth quarter is always huge for Netflix, as people sign up during the holidays as they receive Netflix-capable streaming devices. But it still faces challenges in reaching that forecast over the next few months.

On the international side, it added 690,000 new subscribers, bringing its total customer count overseas to 4.31 million. While Netflix was profitable for the second and third quarters, the company expects to post a loss in the fourth quarter, as it focuses on expanding into the Scandinavian countries of Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland. That’s its fourth big international market, after first launching in Canada, followed by Latin America and the U.K. and Ireland. As U.S. growth slows, it will be more and more dependent on those international markets to expand its revenue and earnings potential.

Netflix expects domestic subscriptions at the end of the fourth quarter around 26.4 million to 27.1 million, with revenue of $581 million to $588 million. International streaming subs are expected to rise to 5.2 million to 5.9 million, with revenue of $90 million to $100 million. Domestic DVD subs are expected to be between 7.85 million and 8.15 million, with revenue between $248 million and $255 million. Earnings could range between a loss of 23 cents per share or a gain of 4 cents a share.

As a result of the lower-than-hoped-for subscriber numbers, Netflix’s shares are down substantially in after-hours trading. Shares are down about $10, or 15 percent, since the release of its earnings numbers.

 Original article provided by TechCrunch

Netflix Blames Trash-Talking Partners For Content Worries, Says Per Member Viewing Up 30 Percent

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In its latest earnings report, Netflix addresses the seemingly constant concerns that it’s losing out on valuable streaming content as its partners start pushing for more money.

For example, the company recently cut about 800 hours of programming from A&E and History, and its deal with Epix is no longer exclusive.

However, Netflix points out that among the top 10 TV shows, six are available only on Netflix, and not Hulu, Amazon Prime Instant Video, or HBO Go. The company also points to two numbers suggesting that customers are still happy with the service — per member viewing is up 30 percent year-over-year, reaching a record high, and voluntary churn, where users cancel the service (versus involuntary churn, where a credit/debit card payment is declined), is “generally the lowest it has ever been.”

Most of the fuss about content deals is usually being stirred up by the content providers, Netflix suggests — after all, they’re hoping to convince Netflix and its competitors to pay more. The company writes:

In general, to maintain a great service and low prices, we have to be choosy about what we are licensing for Netflix. Given the high volume of programming available on Netflix, titles come into and out of license nearly every day. Suppliers, of course, are incentivized to talk about how important their particular offering is to our service, and it can be concerning to investors to read stories of content nonrenewal.

Plus, Netflix will be getting more aggressive with original content next year, with the premiere of David Fincher’s House of Cards scheduled for February, and the revival of Arrested Development coming later in the spring.

The company also offers assessments of each of its three main competitors — again, that’s Amazon, Hulu, and HBO. In discussing Amazon Prime, for example, Netflix says, “The majority of our most popular content is unavailable on Amazon Prime Instant Video. … Our members tell us they’d like more content, not less, so we feel good about our relative content offering.” The company predicts that HBO (which is already launching a direct-to-consumer streaming service in the Nordics), will eventually become more of a director competitor, but it says, “since many consumers in that eventuality would subscribe to both HBO and Netflix, we would compete like any two networks today. Our content is distinct from their content.”

 Original article provided by TechCruch

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings: Subscription Growth Miss Was A “Forecasting Error,” Long-Term Outlook Still Positive

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Today, on Netflix’s third quarter investor call, Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings and CFO David Wells addressed the issue of Netflix’s brand recovery — something many Netflix users and investors were eager to hear about.

Last year was a time Netflix would like to forget, as its Qwikster rebranding, pricing changes and awful PR led to an exodus of users leaving the service. However, in the second quarter, the company returned to profitability and again beat expectations in its third quarter earnings, which were released today.

On the investor call, Hastings also said that that growth was “within the range of guidance from a year ago, although not from Q1,” which he attributed to being more of a “forecasting error” than a result of stunted growth overall. While Netflix has seen stronger growth abroad as it expands its service across Europe, South America and beyond, its subscription numbers in the U.S. appear to have been lagging in comparisons to forecasts, which came in it at the lower end of expectations laid out earlier this year. (Netflix added 1.16 million subscribers in Q3, compared to a forecast of 1 to 1.8 million new additions.)

However, Netflix grew by 5 million subscribers in the U.S. this year and Hastings said that the company “felt good about that” and that it continues to be one of the strongest players in the space. This in spite of the fact that Netflix lowered its own forecast by two million subscribers — the “forecasting error” Hastings was referred to during the investor call.

He also was optimistic about the potential growth next year, thanks to the arrival of its original content and said that every household in the U.S. will become an “Internet household” over the long-term, which will continue to mean good things are ahead for streaming providers like Netflix.

The CEO also said that the company had “made substantial progress and feels good about its original content additions, in particular Arrested Development.” Management believes that Arrested Development’s brand — i.e. its popularity among younger crowds — will bolster the brand. This is especially important considering that the Qwikster fiasco and pricing changes saw Netflix lose droves of customers in this very demographic.

For those unfamiliar, Netflix is bringing Arrested Development out of retirement, developing it as part of its own original content initiative. Today, Anthony wrote about the ongoing concerns over its original content, which it plans to ramp up next year, after spending most of this year focused on international expansion. In its letter to shareholders, Netflix offered assessments of its major competitors, including Amazon, Hulu, and HBO, talking up the value of its exclusive content deals in comparison to its competitors.

In spite of overestimating the market when management split its business into streaming and DVD (i.e. Qwikster), management continues to tow the line in relation to its bet on consumers’ continued transition from consuming content on DVD to consuming that content via web-based streaming providers.

“That outlook has not changed,” Hastings concluded.

Original Article provided by TechCrunch

Rip Empson
Rip Empson is a writer and rabble-rouser at TechCrunch. He covers startups, music, social, mobile, health, and education. You can reach him at rip[at]techcrunch[dot]

Boxee, Anobit, DudaMobile Backer Pitango Closes $150M In Newest $250M Fund – TechCrunch

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Boxee Box

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Boxee Box has gone down in price since first releasing its set top box.  It’s nice to see the price drop  for such a wonderful product that can amply be used for Netflix (and hopefully Hulu soon) and various other applications.



Netflix DVD by Mail

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One DVD down.  Horrible Bosses.  Review:  Meh.  I love the characters that were in the movie (especially “Charlie” from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia) but the movie as a whole was a flop.

Next up:  Moneyball

Burn Notice

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The Netflix app on Boxee Box was useful yesterday to watch Burn Notice and recover from a weekend full of drinking lounging by the pool.  I just wish Netflix were up to date on the seasons so I could increase my laziness by watching more episodes while rotting on the couch.


Hulu Vs Netflix on Boxee Box

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Boxee Box

Seriously people, if you don’t own this product yet there is something very VERY wrong with you.  Boxee Box (The Boxee Box by D-Link HD Streaming Media Player) is by FAR the best set top box out there that lets you stream everything from television shows, music, pictures, apps, and social media.  The user interface on the set top box has gotten significantly better since its launch and continues proves to be the UI that can handle more media types than any other out there.  Google TV, Roku, and whatever lame ass box is out there should be put to shame.  Buy Boxee Box now!

My only gripe with Boxee Box (and Hulu for that matter) is that they don’t yet play nice together in the online video subscription industry.  Boxee has an amazing Netflix application that I use on a daily basis, but when I want to watch shows on my Hulu Plus account I am forced to switch to another set top box (my preference is the XBox 360 with Live).  I have been religiously looking for the Hulu app to come out but they continue to disappointment me much like my childhood.  Get with the program Boxee Box and Hulu!

Video coming soon!