One of the biggest names in comedy will be making his home at Netflix. Thanks to a 40 million dollar contract Chris Rock, will be appearing in two new Netflix standup comedy specials adding to the Online Network’s vast standup comedy library. The exclusive specials bring Rock back stage at a time of major transition in the political world and at a time when social ills are recieving more attention than at any time in recent memory. Viewers can be sure that Rock’s biting critiques of modern life will spare no prisoners as he jabs the establishment and outliers alike and forces the audience to examine subjects they may find uncomfortable while also allowing the same audience to laugh hysterically at the same subjects. The specials should be some of the most watched content on Netflix.
For all of the talk this week about Netflix’s deal with Disney finally coming into full effect in September, streaming fans should keep in mind that the Disney/Marvel/Pixar titles we only part of an overall strategy from Netflix to future proof the streaming network. While I think it is amusing that so many entertainment outlets finally realize that Netflix is a company that acts and maneuvers 5 steps ahead of its competition we have been reporting on Netflix’s long game for a year or more. This is why Netflix decided against the EPIX deal. In fact, the plan went into effect shortly after Netflix dropped its agreement with STARZ. But at the time, the over-reactionary blogosphere and many mainstream news outlets decided to write clickbait stories about the death of Netflix and the rise of Hulu and Amazon. So instead of simply recalling what has already been covered here and in other places, Let’s take a look at another piece of Netflix’s master plan. Netflix Original Series.
When Netflix first began planning for the future, which is about to be the present and announced an investment in original and exclusive content in the wake of dropping STARZ the idea of original streaming content was a novel one. While HBO and other cable networks had been building libraries of series for years streaming had been relegated making whatever it could get the rights to for the least amount of money available and in the case of many outlets, it still is. But when Netflix announced House Of Cards it was the first drop in a torrent. The service has quietly built a massive library of original titles. How massive? Netflix currently has 137 original titles in its catalogue. If that number sounds too big log in and see for yourself. Right now there are 31 of its shows renewed for another season. At least 14 Netflix originals including Marvel’s Daredevil, are pending and those are just a percentage of the over 137 Netflix original productions available via the service. The streaming network’s stunning growth of originals was spurred by the company’s interest in exclusive content and a lack of interest in overpaying for content that could be found on multiple services.
Not all of Netflix’s originals are TV series, they include original movies, TV shows, documentaries and a growing library of one-shot specials featuring stand-up comedians. The dearth of programming on Netflix compared to the offerings from its rival Amazon is stunning. Currently, Amazon, which has been releasing its own original content including numerous pilots over the past 3 years has only 6 original series set to be renewed including the critically acclaimed Transparent. Many of the series the company has put out never went any further than the pilot episode, but to be fair that is part of Amazon’s model, which invites users to choose among numerous shows as to which will be made into a series.
Not all of Netflix’s investments are Emmy-nominated hits but they provide a strong dose of insight into what the company’s strategy is. Netflix does not value catalogues that offer the same thing Amazon and Hulu do. And it’s quite apparent that over 75 million customers don’t either. The original series though do include the ever growing Marvel Movie Universe based series that began with Daredevil and now include Jessica Jones, the upcoming Luke Cage, Iron Fist and the recently announce Punisher. Marvel titles are viewing gold at the moment, but Netflix’s originals are not all dark and brooding. The big red machine also has a major hit with The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and while it was panned by almost everyone Netflix also caught lightning in a bottle with Fuller House. Its investment in children’s programming which includes shows from, Puss In Boots, based on the character from the Shrek franchise and Veggie Tales which builds on the success of the popular Christian based series. We have not even delved into Netflix’s investment in original movies.
So as Netflix moves forward with its strategy and locks down the top 10 movies of the next few years which will undoubtedly be dominated by Marvel and the Starwars franchise it will be supplementing them with a quickly growing library of titles that nobody else has. We will see if it continues to win out going forward.
When the news broke that the cable industry would no longer have a monopoly on set-top boxes to provide cable services a number of consumers cheered the news in the hopes that soon their favorite streaming boxes will be able to substitute for the bulky boxes they have been using for service. While there are mechanisms in place that may allow that to happen like standalone apps and other innovations that may come down the line there are probably a few reasons why both set-top box makers and cable providers are not excited about the future. Should consumers be concerned what may be coming down the line? Will Third Party Set-Top Boxes For Cable Cause More Problems Than They Solve?
Troubleshooting Third party applications and equipment can be a major issue when it comes to troubleshooting. As much as someone might dislike that say their cable modem or set-top box often come from the cable company you cannot deny that when there is some sort of delivery problem the fact that the equipment can be accessed, explored and reset from remote locations is very helpful. When I have problems with my cable modem and call TWC we can talk about the problem in the same way. “What lights are on?” “What color is the light on the bottom?” “Is it blinking or solid?” This is why, even though I know I get charged for the modem, that I don’t have my own. Because I don’t want to be responsible for fixing it, changing security settings and so on. A perfect example is after a recent trip to New York City we returned to find our Wireless internet connection was disabled. Our devices could no longer see our network. I called TWC and they reset the system, renamed the network, logged in a new password and made sure all of my devices were again connected in about 20 minutes. I can’t imagine how annoying it would have been to trouble shoot everything myself when all I wanted to do was have a coke after a 4-day trip.
Are existing set-top boxes built to handle the service? When Netflix does not work even though the internet is in full working order the problem is likely one of two things. Either the device you are accessing the service on is not working correctly or there is a problem with the service on the provider end. When I had a problem with my Netflix using a Roku last year I was able to call Netflix. I explained the problem and they knew that there was an existing problem for Roku and fixed it in minutes. Netflix has apps for seemingly everything and is even integrated into some cable boxes these days. But regardless of the number of partners it has the relationship is easy enough to figure out. Now let’s say that every cable provider was responsible for providing an app or some other delivery system for every set-top box available that allowed for full live TV with a full cable grid, on demand capability and so on just like they do on the devices they currently use. We are not talking about an app. It is an ecosystem. And they equipment currently used is built to do this. Is a Roku 1? What about an Amazon Fire TV or a random Android box? No. They are designed to deliver apps. If something is built as a workaround it may provide some level of service but would it work the same on all of the platforms?
When it’s broken where is it broken? With the current model, providers can tell if their box is not working. They know how to fix it. They can train a staff with less than stunning technical knowhow to walk customers through steps in order to correct a problem without having to be familiar with 10 different devices and operating systems. If people begin to access cable on multiple devices through multiple means it’s quite possible that figuring out a problem is going to be a major headache for all involved. Is something malfunctioning with your modem, is it an app, does the app need to be updated, which Fire TV box are you using the first gen or the second one, does your Roku have a 2 or a 3 on top of it, are you connected with HDMI or the red yellow and white cords, what firmware do you have? The questions can go on forever. And many people are completely unable to answer them because they don’t understand what they have. Anyone who has been drafted by a parent or grandparent understands what I mean here. Right now it can be as easy as the realization that equipment needs to be replaced, an appointment is made and a trained tech comes to a home and installs the equipment correctly and it’s over. In the brave new world of third-party access who knows how a problem gets resolved.
Did it ever occur to these Einsteins who follow the streaming world that Netflix does not have any interest in matching Hulu blow for blow? It has always been a different type of service with a different focus.
In a 2013 story from Gizmodo Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said “The goal is to become HBO faster than HBO can become us”. As it is the two entities sort of met in the middle.
Netflix and Amazon have gotten a great deal of attention for producing original content. Their shows have been nominated and won Emmy nominations and have become a defining factor in the golden age of television. Production of shows exclusively for Streaming services is not only providing fans with something new to watch but even allowing projects that might have otherwise been discarded to live on. But the two giants of original content streaming have two very different approaches to the art form and from my perspective Netflix is winning out in terms of quantity and quality. As Nielson begins to monitor streaming in the way that it monitors everything else we might know once and for all what is being watched and what isn’t.
But even as both companies continue to hide which shows bring in viewership it is not difficult to make some assertions based on a couple of factors we can easily observe.
Renewal House of Cards recently launched its fourth season which seems likely enough to end with Kevin Spacey’s Frank Underwood being named Emperor of the world. Orange Is The New Black has been granted a third season, Daredevil recently rolled out its second season and even the heavily panned “Fuller House” has already been greenlit for a second season. These are not Netflix’s only original series to receive multiple seasons. Amazon has begun to find traction with some of its most recent series Mozzart in the Jungle, Transparent and The Man in the High Castle will be back. Bosch found its way to a second season as well. It’s multiple seasons that will eventually tell the true story of success. At the moment Netflix has more series that have had more than two seasons including the recently cancelled Lilyhammer.
Amazon’s most high-profile show by far,” Transparent” has been a hit for the company and won the Emmy for Best Television Series – Comedy or Musicalin 2015. So Amazon wins when it counts right? Not exactly. Transparent was not the result of Amazon’s traditional approach to original series. The typical approach from Amazon is to allow producers to bid for limited opportunities for a pilot. Amazon then greenlights 6 pilots and puts the content out on the Internet for the viewing audience to take in and provide feedback. Amazon then takes that data and chooses to make the shows that receive the most positive feedback into series. This method gave us the highly regarded “The Man In The High Castle” this season, which received overwhelmingly high reviews from viewers and critics alike. The show which is based on the book of the same title by Phillip K Dick is set in an alternative reality where the US lost WW II and was incorporated into the Japanese and German empires. But truth is that is where the excitement ends for Amazon. As far as entertainment aimed at an adult audience Amazon has had very few series reach second seasons and has gotten more buzz for not renewing series like “Betas”.
What Netflix does differently Netflix bases the series it is going to launch on data culled from its entire user base. It knows for instance whether you prefer ”Sharknado” to “The Square”. Because of this the company can crafts their shows and accepts projects that they already know will be likely successes. They are giving their customer base programming based on what they know for a fact that their customers regularly watch and avoiding the opinions of minority audience of people who for one watched a pilot for a show during a limited period of time and then took enough time to fill out feedback forms and or post comments on the selections Amazon profile. Netflix had a number of Marvel properties streaming for a number of years both live action and animated. It could dive into the data and see that their audience enjoyed comic book related content so partnering with Disney to produce Marvel based TV shows was a no-brainer. A truly ingenious move was integrating the new shows into the Marvel movie universe which invited the millions of movie fans to check out the new product in order to feel connected with the rest of the story that has been unfolding both on the big screen and in Agents of Shield, which also streams on the service. Amazon does not seem to think that far ahead.
Netflix Netflix is the quintessential streaming app and was the very first streaming application that Roku ever supported. With over 50 million customers its quite likely that you already have a Netflix account. What does Netflix offer? A gigantic library of movies, TV shows, documentaries and a growing list of special presentations like concerts and comedy specials. Netflix is more of a streaming network than an app with over a dozen original shows from the gritty like House of Cards, Jessica Jones and Daredevil to the Emmy-winning comedy The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. It’s a great way to check out the shows that everyone at work has been telling you to see like The Walking Dead, Once Upon a Time or even long time favorites. Best yet if you have a 4k TV and a Roku 4 Netflix is one of the only places to find content for it.
Amazon Video Amazon’s video service is a feature included in conjuction with Amazon’s prime service. If you have been considering Amazon Prime for the shipping, Kindle reader perks and and special offers it is a no brainer. Amazon has exclusive streaming deals with CBS that makes it the home of summer hits like Under The Dome and offers a large number of TV Shows and movies from multiple studios. A perk of Amazon’s service is that the content is broken down by network so if you have a favorite TV neighborhood it can be found easily. Amazon has some well regarded originals too including breakout alternative history thriller The Man In The High Castle and the Emmy-winning Transparent. On the movie side of the spectrum Amazon offers the Epics movie catalogue which features big titles from Lions Gate and other studios.
Hulu Hulu is a great service for those who don’t have a DVR and or cable television. The service offers
next day replay of content from Fox, NBC, ABC, CW, the majority of viacom based networks including Comedy Central, the entire library of South Park, the Epics Movie Catalogue, The Criterion Collection (art and Indie films) BCC content and a large slate of originals. There are also tons of television shows from throughout the TV landscapes organized by network and studio. Users can pay as little as $7.99 for the commercial supported version of the channel or kick it up a notch for the commercial free version. Hulu customers also have the option to add current and archived content from Showtime. Overall it’s a great value.
NBC NBC has its own freestanding app on Roku where users can catch up on NBC shows and specials. Users who have a participating cable provider can access even more content. The app will allow users to access a great deal of content for free though including original movies and series without the need to provide a Cable password.
CBSN CBSN is a 24 hour Internet based news network. It provides a daily rundown of breaking news much like CNN, Fox News and others. The service is free no strings attached. With CBSN you will not be caught off guard when someone asks you about the tornado in Texas or even the latest pop culture buzz.
PBS PBS is one of the most complete apps on Roku. Any of PBS’s programs can be found via the app and users can sign in with their local PBS station to open regional based programming. For fans of hits like Downton Abbey, Sherlock and what ever makes its way through the BBC pipeline next PBS is a treasure. There are also a number of PBS favorites from yesteryear including the Joy Of Painting.
YouTube YouTube is the most heavily used streaming service in the country. If you don’t know what YouTube is now you can probably ask the person next to you and get an earful about cute babies, Kittens and more but the app overall can become a go to for people from all walks of life. From clips uploaded from all over the world to great original programming from professional production companies it is easy spend an entire night on one short form feature after another. It is also one of the most popular places in the world to find music. Link your own YouTube account and see your favorite subscriptions and saved videos.
Watch ESPN is the app of apps for sports fans. Like its mobile app the Watch ESPN app for Roku provides access to ESPN’s family of networks provided that your TV provider participates in the program. A great bonus offered by Watch ESPN is ESPN 3, an internet based option that gives viewers access to extra contests from major sports conferences including live football and BAsketball, Baseball and non revenue sports. Many ISP’s especially DSL providers allow users to access ESPN 3 content without a cable subscription.
Pandora You might be surprised at just how much you use this free music service. Pandora has a gigantic selection of music available on request. Users can set up their own stations based on specific performers and genres. Want easy listening? Search for adult contemporary or look for James Taylor and the system will populate Taylor, Paul Simon and simmilar artist. Type John Williams and listen to Star Wars, The ET score, and other works from Williams, Hans Zimmer and more. It’s one of my personal favorites when I am writing.
VUDU Nope this is not a cult channel. It is an on demand movie and television service and one of the best places to find 4K content online.Roku 4 users with 4K TV’s should take a look at this channel early. It is free to add and with a free account users can purchase digital blockbuster films and even access their own digital content through Ultra Violet. The service offers multiple viewing options for content including SD, HD and 4K.
Netflix is going to have to make some changes going forward if it is going to be able to continue to grow and be profitable in the future. Fierce Online Video reported that Netflix was going to reach the limit of its US subscriber base. If this happens the company will have to increase profits in a different way other than domestic growth. We have some ideas what may be coming next.
Tightening of account usage Netflix has about over 40 million subscribers in the US and 17 million worldwide but we all know that the number of Netflix users is larger. This is because of the prevalence of people who instead of paying the monthly fee of 8-12 dollars a month instead opt to use a the log in of a friend or family member. The majority of the time this is a mutual agreement but either way that is a subscription that Netflix does not get. If the company would like to grow its subscriber base in the US it must find a way to convert the number of people who access the service for free in to paying customers.
Raising prices Netflix has already raised prices for new subscribers once. This was a clever way to get more money from its base without angering those who have been loyal customers over time. The service may well raise prices again on new customers or even existing customers with the promise of maintaining or increasing the level of programming. A more likely possibility would be to further increase the fees for multiple user accounts which is what allow Netflix to be seen on multiple screens. If the cost of providing access to a buddy from work becomes too high then one may be motivated to cut the bigger package back and force the recipients of said password to sign up for their own accounts.
Commercials Netflix has built its service around subscribers and has provided its subscribers access to thousands of titles without any commercial interference. This works out well streaming fans who for some reason think that if one pays for a streaming service that they should not be made to watch commercials. Those who subscribe to this notion ignore the fact that a majority of cable channels (which do not come cheap) include commercials and those that don’t like the premium movie networks still advertise for their own in house events. Netflix, more than any other company this side of Amazon knows what its customer base likes. Should it leverage this information with advertisers it could craft an effective commercial outreach campaign through pre-roll (before a feature) advertising that could be desirable to advertisers. Could we start seeing commercials on Netflix? It would do no worse than make Netflix like every other medium of content delivery. It will be worth noticing how well Amazon’s rumored add-supported service works out.
More International Growth Obviousely if the company can not win more eyeballs in the US it must do so outside of the boarder. There are millions of potential customers across the globe. Netlfix is already available in a number of European countries as well as other countries in the Americas. Effective outreach to customers outside of the US will be key for the company going forward and could stave off the options mentioned above.
Netflix has been one of the loudest voices for net neutrality since the rules were struck down and is now becoming one of the strongest voices for changing the entire model of the Internet as we know it. The company which has been fighting a public relations war with ISP’s like Comcast and Verizon over accusations of throttling (slowing down connection speeds for the service) in order to degrade its signal has even gone as far as to roll out experimental messages aimed at customers informing them that the reason their latest video binge session has been interrupted was due to the shoddy connection speeds provided by their ISP’s and not the online
The Armada Mach 8 Set top box is a powerful new entry to the set top box market. The Mach 8 comes pre-loaded with XBMC and runs on a powerful Amlogic quad-core processor. The Android version OS Kit Kat 4.4 adds more fuel to the fire with a sharp and cheerful interface and additional apps for your streaming needs. The streaming box is available for $99.00 at: www.theaterinabox.tv and Amazon .
With networks giving up on promising series more quickly the intervention of streaming services may become more important over time. Yahoo’s recent announcement regarding its plans to pick up cancelled NBC series Community makes it the latest traditional network show to transition from a linear broadcast model to streaming. But as traditional networks and cable channels become less patient with traditional series preferring nearly interchangeable talent and reality shows to scripted content we could see more TV series housed on Netflix, Amazon, Yahoo and Hulu.
The Streaming Advisor aims to teach and inform others about how to enjoy video content broadcast via the Internet through incisive stories and reviews that explore the new media marketplace and examine online media trends and how they effect consumers.
Online media includes familiar services like Netflix, Hulu, Crackle and other widely known sources along with small start up sites and companies like PlayOn. We keep tabs on Roku, Apple TV, Google TV and Android streaming so that all you have to do is keep tabs with us.