Tag Archives: Netflix

Twitter is the reason to watch television live #HIMYMfinale

himymfinaleI’m a binge watcher.

I don’t watch a lot of television live, save for sports. I don’t have cable, and Netflix is how I watch most television shows. But Twitter pulls me back into live television.

There is nothing that cable companies and channels can do to pull me back into live television, but technology and the communal experience can. Twitter is so much better than the day-after water-cooler experience. You discuss and share experiences in real time, as new developments happen over the course of a show.

Twitter is the only reason I watch the Oscars. The show itself is kind of boring and bloated, but all the discussion about the host’s jokes, who won what award (or should have won), etc. makes it enjoyable. Oscar watching parties are still popular, and a good way to go, but with Twitter you don’t need a party to experience a live event with lots of people.

I binge watched How I Met Your Mother with my wife starting about a year ago. We eventually caught up to the final season about halfway through (eight seasons in a year is a hell of a way to watch a sitcom). And I’m glad we did for the finale, even though the show is much more enjoyable to binge watch than in 22-minute chunks.

With the second screen experience and Twitter, watching television becomes a communal experience, where as share our thoughts and theories.

As we were watching the HIMYM finale, I couldn’t take it anymore. I opened up my laptop and went on Twitter. I had to see what people were saying, and I wasn’t disappointed.

The #HIMYMFinale hashtag was the top one in the U.S. I went there and was able to vent and share my feelings. About half way through the finale I began tweeting my own thoughts.

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As this point, I none of us knew the Mother would die (although I expected her to for several weeks), and that Ted and Robin might be a thing again in the future. And then people began responding to me. Some thought there was no way this could happen.

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After the final was over, and it was clear what had happened, I sent out one of my final tweets.

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If I hadn’t caught up to real time with the show, I would never have sent this tweet out, and had all the interaction I had with people all over the world that night and for the next week. People will still be upset by the finale (or continue to love it) for years, but the energy around the finale was when it aired. Imagine the snark that would have happened when Seinfeld’s finale ended if Twitter were around. I almost want a time machine and Twitter to make that happen.

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Of course, you have to avoid Twitter if you want to avoid spoilers, and there is no way to segregate tweets by region. West Coast HIMYM fans could watch the finale when it aired and still have it spoiled by East Coast viewers and their reactions. That’s a flaw in the current broadcast television model that will only cause more people to go to streaming.

Not showing shows at same time everywhere is the issue — an anachronism from a pre-social media time. The social experience around a television event shouldn’t be limited to people who get to watch the show first.

This is one of the big strengths of Oscars and live sports. These kinds of events are shown everywhere at the same time and work very well for social media. Scripted television will need to adapt.

Binge watching is great. Most of the time it is better than watching a 30-minute show filled with commercials once a week. But binge watching kills the social experience. This will have to be rectified.

But traditional television models are bad at binge watching and the social experience. Viewers don’t really benefit at all from the traditional television model, which is user hostile.

One day when all content goes over IP, this won’t be an issue. Imagine being able to watch a television show when it airs on CBS in your time zone or being able to stream it at the same time everywhere. West Coast viewers could tune in at the same time as East Coast viewers.

But the more I binge watch, the more I realize that the current model really harms the viewing experience and the show themselves. Sitcoms really drag when you are given about 22-minutes of new content a week surrounded by ads. Game of Thrones, with each episode being a weighty 50+ minutes, sans ads, still works in a once-a-week format, because the show is so dense that it’s hard to binge watch more than a few episodes in a week.

I don’t think sitcoms like HIMYM do that well. The show was more enjoyable when I could binge watch it. You can get in about three episodes of HIMYM in about an hour on Netflix. But, again, binge watching can’t be nearly the social experience. All you can talk about with binge watching are the broad strokes of a show.

So, what’s the solution? Perhaps we need more hour-long shows with fewer episodes per season. Or, maybe every episode except for the last few in a season should be available on day one. This way people can binge watch the show over a few weeks and then come together for a big finale together as a community.

House of Cards is a great show, and it’s fun to binge watch, but it lacks a strong social community around it.

Episode 102: Distraction-free classroom

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We follow up last week’s episode about technology in the classroom by talking more about how professors feel about students bringing their own technology into the classroom. We have BYOD in the workplace. Will education embrace this as well?

We also discuss Amazon raising the price of Prime to $99 a year. Is it still a good deal?

Listen to this week’s show:

 

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Episode 99: Netflix v. Verizon

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Does your Netflix video quality look terrible? You’re not alone.

We discuss Netflix’s recent trouble with ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast. No matter how expensive of a plan you were paying for, Netflix was slow and looked bad. Because that’s how the ISPs role.

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Episode 77: Microphone in the wrong computer

arrested-development

Jeremy and I agree that the new Independence Day movie will be one of the best movies ever. Awfully (good) as Jeremy says.

That leads us naturally into a discussion about Netflix, Arrested Development and the future of TV shows on Netflix, Amazon and other streaming services.

We also discuss how HBO, Netflix and others don’t need as many successful shows as a broadcast network would need in order to be successful.

We also discuss the latest Apple TV update and how both HBO Go and WatchESPN require a cable subscription to use, which is a big change from the past.

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Episode 71: Twitter is not secure enough for news orgs and pros to use

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When hackers are tweeting out fake assassination attempts on the president from reputable news outlet’s Twitter accounts, you know we have an issue.

There have been a string of high profile Twitter hacking cases. The issue is fairly simple: Twitter is not an enterprise tool. It even has significantly less security than Gmail and some other Web apps.

But Twitter is used by large organizations all over the world. Why don’t they care more about security? It threatens the entire legitimacy of Twitter.

Yes, two-factor authentication would be a start, but Twitter needs a lot more than that. And companies would be willing to pay for added security, accounts and features.

We then discuss House of Cards, Netflix and whether or not people care about the anticipation of waiting for new episodes to come out week after week.

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Episode 34: Manly boards

Jeremy talks about is manly Pinterest boards.

Apparently, everyone is pinning these days and Pinterest now the world’s third largest social network. I assume MySpace is still No. 1.

We also discuss online news orgs winning Pulitzer prizes. The times they are a changing.

We also rant again about net neutrality, and we discuss how young people are driving less today because of technology.

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Netflix kills Qwikster, will keep DVDs in house

All that Netflix handwringing was all for naught.

Netflix will not be spinning off its DVD business into a new company called Qwikster:

“It is clear that for many of our members, two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs,” read his post on the company’s blog (blog.netflix.com). “This means no change: one website, one account, one password… in other words, no Qwikster.”

The big problem with splitting the company in two was usability. Users would have had to search for movies on two different sites and maintain two different movie queues. While this may have made sense for Netflix in an abstract business sense, it was a huge usability fail.

The question now becomes: Will Netflix still be able to convince movie studios of the value of streaming movies? That was the whole idea behind the split in the first place. Studios argued that people had Netflix for physical DVDs, while Netflix said users really loved streaming.

Thoughts on the Netflix split (and about Qwikster)

Today Netflix split into two separate companies — Netflix for streaming and Qwikster for DVDs through the mail.

This won’t just be two separate names, but will also involve users going to two different websites and managing two separate queues. It’s a big decision, and one that frankly will probably have a rough go for awhile. Below are some of my early thoughts on it.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings had a lot to say about this decision, including his fears that Netflix wouldn’t make the digital jump:

For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us) because they are afraid to hurt their initial business. Eventually these companies realize their error of not focusing enough on the new thing, and then the company fights desperately and hopelessly to recover. Companies rarely die from moving too fast, and they frequently die from moving too slowly.

This was bound to happen — Whether people want to admit it or not, Netflix wants to get out of the DVD business. They also want the studios to offer them more access to movies and TV shows for streaming.  The DVD business is holding that back, while also masking how many streaming subscribers that Netflix has. Netflix has almost as many streaming subscribers as Comcast has customers. Netflix wants to hammer that home to rights holders. Netflix needs to convince studios this is because people love streaming, not because they love getting plastic discs in the mail. This divorce had to happen, otherwise the studios could argue that Netflix users really want the DVDs and view the streaming as just a nice add on. The numbers say otherwise; 10 million people are streaming only subscribers, while only three million are DVD only. The other 12 receive both.

What’s with that name? — I don’t get the name at all, and I don’t get why it has nothing to do with the business at all. Netflix was a great name from the beginning and one that showed how prescient Reed Hastings was. Reed always knew that Netflix would be about the Internet, and even when the company had a DVD-only beginning, he knew that a name like Netflix would make sense. It’s movies. It’s over the net. It’s Netflix. The only thing I can think of with Qwikster is that Netflix didn’t want anything that remotely confused customers — Mailflix, for instance — and they also don’t see this as a long-term business. If they only see Qwikster as a bridge business for a few years, how much does the name really matter?

Social media is important — Would you really name a company without securing the social media accounts first? I wouldn’t. Netflix apparently would. On Twitter at least, Qwikster is a pot-smoking parody of Elmo. Fantastic. I don’t get why this mistake was made. Does Netflix just really not care about Qwikster more than the bare minimum that they have too?

Streaming is the future — This is what people have to get. DVD subscribers to Netflix have peaked. It’s all going to be downsizing from here on out. Netflix is doing this to force people to move to that future. Trust me, you want streaming. Plastic discs suck.

Is their a future for DVDs in the mail, anyway? — The Post Office is facing major issues right now, including discussing cutting a few days of deliver. President Obama has even endorsed the idea. Netflix is utterly dependent on the Post Office for delivering DVDs in a timely fashion for cheap. Imagine no Saturday delivery. Imagine delivery only three days a week. It’s too expensive to deliver DVDs via UPS or FedEx. Would you really want to bet the future of your business on the Post Office? Netflix doesn’t. And frankly, I don’t know how strong a future DVDs in the mail would for any company, with or without streaming.

This isn’t Netflix’s fault — Well, yes, the poor way they handled this is, but Netflix wants to offer more streaming movies. They’d love to offer every movie and TV show. The studios are holding on to the past and don’t like streaming, mostly because they love it when you buy an entire movie, even when you’ll only watch it once. Netflix is doing this to force their hand. If you give up on Netflix or one of its competitors, you’re giving into the studios and their retrograde way of viewing things. They care about legacy profits, not what users want. I never root for people who don’t care about what users want. Netflix does, unfortunately things may get worse before they get better.

If one website is good, are two great? — I don’t get the two different websites thing. Yes, they are different companies, and, yes, Netflix wants to hammer that home. But people don’t want two queues. They really, really don’t want to have to rate movies twice. Netflix needs to do an API that allows for reviews and ratings to at least be transferable between the two websites. If not, this is a big usability fail. That would be very unfortunate and unfair to users.

Qwikster won’t be around long — Either Qwikster will be shut down in five years or it will be sold. The name is not related to Netflix at all. It will have a separate website that as far as we can tell won’t integrate with Netflix. Netflix wants to get completely out of the DVD business too. In addition, Netflix cared so little about this move that the choose a name that was a pot-smoking muppet parody on Twitter.

I’ve already gone streaming only — I want everything to be streaming. The only way to get to a world where everything is available to stream in HD is for the market to speak. I’m done with plastic discs. I suggest you do the same.

Episode 8: Our cloud/streaming future — get excited, but be prepared to cry

This is our Net Neutrality episode, and it’s a great discussion about what could be and how that may not come to be.

We go into this whole big discussion about our cloud/streaming/awesome future that may be derailed by our terrible ISPs. So get excited — but be prepared to cry.

We ask some big questions:

  • Do younger generations who have never paid for music have interest in owning digital content? Are we exiting the age of ownership?
  • Can our Internet support our awesome cloud/streaming future?
  • Will streaming digital content and better user experiences vanquish piracy?

We kick off the show by asking, are people being too harsh with Google and the whole Google+ deleting users for not using their real names? We think that people should cut Google some slack during a field test.

And organizations? Well you knew from the start that Google was rolling out pages for organizations at a later date. So, really how upset should you be that your organization’s page was deleted?

Out of nowhere we kind of do an Apple TV review at the end of the show. We talk about whispers of NFL Sunday Ticket coming to Apple TV.

Also, I lecture people about how only stupid people use P2P services such as Limewire. Is your computer acting weird? Is it slow? Might be because you’re using a P2P service filled with malware and viruses.

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Netflix uses its price increase to bring subscribers to the future (could news organizations do the same?)

Netflix’s price increase was largely created to encourage subscribers to adopt streaming only, because Netflix clearly sees that streaming is the future of video, not plastic disks shipped in the mail (and stored in big, expensive warehouses).

Netflix also wants to encourage content holders to release more content digitally. If the majority of Netflix’s customers are on streaming only plans (which is not the case today), that would push reluctant content holders to see that the days of the DVD are over.

A lot of people are upset with Netflix now, but in five years it will be clear that this was the prudent decision. They’ll end up convincing more subscribers to go streaming only and sell more new subscribers on the idea of streaming video, especially as their streaming library grows. Their streaming library will grow as content holders see more and more people signing up for Netflix streaming (and hopefully my streaming video dreams will come true).

The Nieman Lab tries to see if these lessons could be applied to the news industry:

Newspaper publishers started this process several years ago, saying, “Let’s have these print customers pay more of the freight of creating and delivering print.” Since then, community dailies that used to cost a quarter a day havetripled to 75 cents, and The New York Times goes for $6 on Sunday. They have priced in more of the cost of that expensive newsprint, ink, and delivery.

Now, this year, we’ve seen added in the charging for digital access. We’ve begun to see the answer to this question: How much will consumers pay for digital access? That’s still uncertain, though early evidence is coming in from The New York Times, Time Inc., and Journalism Online experiments, among others. In newspapers and in magazines, we see the interim play: the bundled, all-access subscription — pay us once and get both analog and digital, print and pixel. That’s a move for more consumer revenue in the short-term, but also a longer-term pricing play to get pure digital revenue as readers give up print.

What do you think? In my view, legacy news organizations, particularly newspapers, have been double- and triple- downing on print. Investment in digital has seen fits and starts, and there hasn’t been enough attention paid as to how to monetize the future, which is clearly digital distribution of news.

I have a dream for streaming movies, and it doesn’t involve mailing DVDs around the world.