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All posts tagged "Netflix"

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Netflix Profits Up Big

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 01:00 PM

"Analysts were already anticipating a killer Q4 for Netflix, and unlike practically every other company on the face of the planet, it delivered. The movie rental firm somehow managed to see net income rise to $22.7 million in the quarter, up from $15.7 million in Q4 2007. Revenue was also up by 19 percent, and subscriber growth was pegged at an amazing 26 percent. All told, the firm ended the quarter with 9.4 million subscribers, decimating its own forecast of ending Q4 with 9.15 million customers. Of course, some (Netflix included) are quick to assert that the recession has actually boosted business, with many consumers opting to stay home and rent versus taking the family out for a pricey night at the cinema."

Just goes to show you that you provide a good product along with top notch service, you win. I had another great experience with them this week. A movie I wanted had to ship from cross-country since it was not available closer. I have the 3 out plan, so they went ahead and shipped me a 4th move from my queue since the other was going to take an extra day or two to arrive.

Tags: Netflix

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Why Netflix is Beating Blockbuster

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 10:00 PM

"While I’ve always liked Netflix, I’ve remained dubious as to their potential for long term success. Even when they hit their first million subscribers I thought little of it. From my perspective, with tens of millions of customers, I figured sooner or later Blockbuster would just wipe out Netflix’s market share and opportunity. Instead, Netflix is en route to 9 million subscribers, and I’m more than a little surprised. A conversation last night with a good friend of mine helped me understand why this is happening. It’s a few parts Innovator’s Dilemma, and a few parts just plain bad business. It’s a Cinderella story. Outta nowhere."

Earlier this year I posted why I left Blockbuster. The above article has a nice business analysis of why Netfilx is kicking Blockbuster's butt. While I agree with the article, Netflix success comes down to management actually understands the customer and is proactive in making sure the customer has a positive experience. While my experience with Blockbuster was riddled with periodic frustrations that piled up until they broke the camels back, Netflix has been smooth sailing. When I mail back a DVD, I get a new one two days later. Their streaming works great. When they have had problems, they've been proactive about informing the consumer and liberal about providing credits with waiting for the customer to complain. Their pricing is more than reasonable, especially if you make liberal use of Watch It Now and even though their is a surcharge for getting Blu-ray, $1 additional per month seems more than reasonable considering that Blu-ray disks cost more than DVDs. (Side note: I broke down today and bought a Blu-ray player and added Blu-ray to my Netflix account, my HD-DVD player is sitting in the corner sulking.)

Monday, December 8, 2008

Netflix Launches Streaming to TiVo

Posted by Timothy Huber in "Digital Home News" @ 11:00 AM

"Netflix on TiVo* is here! TiVo customers who are on a Netflix unlimited plan can now instantly watch over 12,000 movies & TV episodes from Netflix via any broadband connected TiVo® HD, TiVo® HD XL and TiVo® Series3™ DVRs."

Before I left for work this morning I got a chance to give this a try. During the night my TiVoHD received the new service update, which among other things, added Netflix to the Video On Demand category. Activating the TiVo took just a few minutes: my TiVo gave me an activation code, I entered into my Netflix account, and a couple moments later the TiVo recognized my account. I tried it out for maybe five minutes, using a couple of movies my kids had added to the Instant Queue. The first, the infamously dull 1969 musical "Dr. Doolitte," never played more than a couple seconds of video before freezing (as bad as this movie is perhaps this is a feature). I had better luck with my second try, the movie version of "Annie," which seemed to work okay. About that time I had to take my daughter to school, so my opinion at this point is all based on first impressions.

And those impressions? Not the greatest streaming quality, including some very visible compression artifacts. I don't think I will be using this as a primary video on demand source. But if I'm desperate to watch "Annie" (or any of the 10,000 other movies that Netflix streams) it's a definite no-cost option. Kudos to TiVo and Netflix for putting this together.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Netflix Streaming Issues Resolved

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Hardware & Accessories" @ 09:30 AM

"Recently some Netflix members using Roku or Xbox movie players noticed lower quality streaming than they had experienced earlier. This was a temporary issue that we believe we have resolved. Working with our content distribution partners and key carriers, we made some specific changes that should restore everyone’s experience to where it was before – high quality streaming."

The above statement is directly from the official Netflix Blog. So it looks like they have tracked down the issue and have it fixed. I was never experiencing an issue in the first place, but to those of you that were, does it appear to be back to normal? Now, hopefully they and Roku can hurry up and get the HD update out for the Roku box!

Tags: Netflix, Roku

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Streaming vs. Downloading

Posted by Timothy Huber in "Digital Home Talk" @ 09:00 AM

"For weeks now, Roku Netflix Player owners have noticed an almost universal drop in quality dots (which range from 1 to 4 in order to show quality levels), with many finding the new feeds "unwatchable." CNET recently had a talk with Tim Twerdahl, vice president of consumer products at Roku, about the issue, and according to Tim, all he knows is that "Roku didn't make any changes." Furthermore, we've seen comments in our own posts noting that other Netflix-enabled boxes are also seeing the quality drop. The worst part is that there's still no definitive solution in sight, so we suppose our only advice is to kick back and watch Netflix and Roku bicker over who's really to blame"

I don't have a Roku box, but apparently users are having issues with Netflix streaming quality, to the point that the video becomes unwatchable. This got me thinking about the fundamental differences between streaming and download services particularly as it relates to the (relatively) new category of IP set-top boxes.

Streaming services like Netflix automatically adjust the quality of the video based on the media player: bandwidth, resolution, etc. The stream is not stored, but played and then discarded. Time to playback is typically short but quality may be limited. If the connection is unreliable or unavailable, a streaming solution effectively no longer works.

Conversely, download services deliver an existing video file but may require the entire file to be downloaded before beginning playback. Since the file is stored locally, quality is consistent and it can easily be replayed. In a system with progressive download, used by Vudu and the new Blockbuster set-top box, playback is started before the video is completely downloaded. However, depending on connection speed and quality, playback may be delayed while waiting for the video download to finish.


Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Netflix Coming to the Mac

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 04:00 PM

"As promised, you can finally use Netflix's Watch Instantly streaming video service on a Mac. The juiciest, most ironic part? The magic happens with Microsoft's Flash-wannabe Silverlight—which you probably grew to know and maybe hate during the Olympics—since it keeps the DRM voodoo intact. The only real catch is that it works exclusively on Intel-based Macs, leaving anyone on an aging PowerBook out in the cold. Full details below—it's not live yet, but it should be soon."

It has been a long time coming, but the Netflix "Watch Instantly" feature is now available for Mac users. I've been loving the "Watch Instantly" feature on my PC (watching Weeds as I write this post), so great to see it spreading out. Now, if they'd just support Firefox and Linux, I'd be good to go.

Tags: Mac, Netflix

Preview the Xbox 360 Dash

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 01:30 PM

"Thanks to a special blessing from the folks in Redmond, we've had an opportunity to thoroughly give the rejiggered Xbox 360 Dash (AKA, the New Xbox Experience) a serious run through, and we've got the lowdown on the future of your gaming life. As you probably already know from the numerous posts we've done and generally available info (Microsoft has been pretty forthcoming with this stuff), the Xbox team has completely revamped the Dash experience, giving the system not only a visual overhaul, but trashing the underlying tech and rebuilding things from the ground up. The result is a beautiful, intuitive interface which loses almost nothing from previous versions while adding a considerable new feature set to the mix. Read on for our first impressions."

A total reboot for the Xbox 360 Dash, and I'm liking what I'm seeing. It appears a TON of work went into this new version. I've been very excited about the addition of the Netflix streaming, a feature that will finally have me upgrading from Silver to Gold. I was even more excited to see down in the tidbits, that Netflix will also be supporting HD streaming to the 360. November 19th can't get here soon enough for me!

Tags: Xbox, Netflix, Dash

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Dear Blockbuster...

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Talk" @ 01:00 PM

Dear Blockbuster,

It's not me, it's you. I really liked you, but you just seemed to stop caring. Today's phone call was the last straw, as soon as I can copy my queue to Netflix I'll be gone. Here is what happened.

I've been fairly happily using the Blockbuster service for a while now. I really liked that I could return movies to the store and get free in-store rentals in return. Plus, they automatically cleared the queue when returned to the store, shaving at least a day off of the ship time for my next movie. I returned my last three movies to the store on 7/23. I received one movie in the mail to replace it on the 7/26. By 7/30, I started to wonder where my other two movies were, so I went to check my queue. I had over 70 movies in my queue, about half of which were available. Since I've been with Blockbuster, I have quite a few movies that are Long Wait or Very Long Wait such that these have started to accumulate at the top of my queue. Read more...

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Is it Lights Out for Blockbuster?

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 07:00 PM

"Instead, it's (once again) Netflix realizing that the future of the the rental business isn't in the brick-and-mortar and probably not even in the mail sector. It's Netflix that's adapting to the changing times by streaming movies and TV shows to its Roku box and, now, the Xbox 360. And in one fell swoop, Netflix has once again made Blockbuster irrelevant. What other recourse does Blockbuster have now other than to keep plugging away with its brick-and-mortar business and hope to stay afloat long enough to sell it off to the highest bidder? It's not only the loser in the rental business, but now that it's slow to the streaming game, how can it capitalize on the market?"

Blockbuster could of course team up with Sony, but I find that unlikely. Blockbuster may very well be snuffed out of existence in the next few years. Netflix may well own the streaming market which greatly diminishes the top end of the market. Meanwhile they can always go for the low end of the market that is years, if not decades away, from really being ready to stream. But on that end, they are going to get squeezed by kiosks like the ones going in Wal-mart that rent movies for $1 per day.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Netflix and Microsoft, Sitting in a Tree...

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home News" @ 05:30 PM

"An exciting new home theater experience is coming to living rooms this holiday season. At E3, Microsoft and Netflix, the world's largest online movie rental service, today unveiled an exclusive partnership to offer the ability to instantly stream movies and TV episodes from Netflix to your television via Xbox 360®. Xbox 360 will be the only game system that lets you instantly watch movies and TV episodes streamed from Netflix. This movie-watching innovation will be available to Xbox LIVE® Gold members who are also Netflix subscribers, and will let those users enjoy streaming movies from Netflix on Xbox LIVE at no additional cost."

Now that there is an official, sanctioned way to stream from Netflix to the 360, it looks like come this fall I'll be upgrading to Xbox Live Gold and switching over to Netflix. The only thing that had been keeping me with Blockbuster, despite their being more expensive than Netflix, was the ability to trade in movies directly at the store. Frankly, the ability to stream over 10,000 items directly to my 360 outweighs the ability to periodically make a swap for a free in-store rental.

Tags: Xbox, Netflix

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

vmcNetFlix Brings Netflix to Windows Media Center

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 05:00 AM

"vmcNetflix is an add-in for Microsoft Windows Vista Media Center which allows you to manage your NetFlix subscription, stream NetFlix "WatchNow" movies directly to the Media Center player, or download the movies for playback later from a "WatchLater" gallery."

Looks pretty sweet, especially the fact that you can watch your downloaded movies over your extender. Now Netflix, take this as a wake up call and develop an official version of this. Bonus points if you can get something working directly with the 360 without the need for a media center PC.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Netflix Chooses Blu-Ray Over HD DVD

Posted by Suhit Gupta in "Digital Home News" @ 07:30 PM

"Online video rental company Netflix Inc said on Monday it would exclusively stock Blu-ray high-definition DVDs after a decision by some the world's biggest movie studios in favor of the Sony Corp developed format. Netflix has stocked DVDs using both Blu-ray and the competing HD DVD format developed by Toshiba Corp since they first came on the market in early 2006. Four out of six major Hollywood studios have recently decided to publish high-definition DVDs only using Blu-ray. Netflix said that with such a clear signal from the industry, it will only buy Blu-ray discs going forward and will phase out stock of HD DVD by about the end of the year."

Hmm, I wonder whether this happened because there weren't enough takers for the HD DVD format. Given Netflix is the leader in movie rentals, I wonder if this really signals the demise of HD DVD. I know Microsoft has backed this format very strongly and the XBox 360 (which has support for HD DVD) has been doing very well. So I wonder whether this also signals that not enough people are using the XBox 360 has a high definition media extender?

Monday, February 11, 2008

MyNetflix Plugin for Vista Media Center

Posted by Chris Gohlke in "Digital Home Software" @ 06:00 PM

"I’ve kept this pretty quiet, but I’ve been working on a new Media Center plugin for a little while now. It is now ready for beta testing, and I’ve decided to run a public beta for this one. MyNetflix features - View your Netflix queue, Browse movies by genre, top 100, new titles, etc., View your history and recommendations, Add movies to your queue, Remove movies from your queue, Move movies to the top of your queue, Browse “watch now” movies, and Play “watch now” movies."

Looks pretty cool and is so obvious, I'm surprised it had not been done already. If you'd like to give it a shot, go to his download page and let us know how it works out.

Tags: Netflix

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