Tag Archive: Netflix

Netflix on Monday said it has bought comics publisher Millarworld, bringing on board renowned comic book writer Mark Millar and a host of character franchises it can mine for TV shows and movies.

It is the first acquisition by Netflix, the 20-year-old streaming-video pioneer that is building a library of original series and films in a bid to hook new customers around the world.

Two of Millarworld’s best-known comics, Kick-Ass and Kingsman, are not part of the deal, whose terms Netflix did not disclose.

The purchase of a character stable mimics the strategy of Walt Disney. Disney bought Marvel Studios in 2009 and has churned out blockbuster movies, TV series and toys based on its superheroes. Some Marvel shows run on Netflix.

Mark Millar, a Scottish writer and former Marvel employee, runs Millarworld with his wife, Lucy.

Three of Millarworld’s franchises – Wanted, Kick-Ass and Kingsman – have been adapted into films that have taken in nearly $913 million combined at global box offices.

Although Kick-Ass and Kingsman are not part of the deal, it does bring Netflix a range of other franchises across genres from science fiction to fantasy, plus superheroes and real-world characters.

“Mark is as close as you can get to a modern-day Stan Lee,” Netflix’s chief content officer, Ted Sarandos, said in a statement, referring to the 94-year-old creator of comic book franchises such as Spider-Man, Avengers and X-Men.

Millar spent eight years at Marvel, where he developed comic books and story lines that resulted in movies such as Logan and Captain America: Civil War.

It is unclear if Netflix will spend the sums Marvel does on its movies, which can cost up to $250 million. Netflix’s development has focused on TV series and smaller budget movies, but it is moving toward big-budget films. It spent $90 million on the Will Smith movie Bright, due out in December.

The acquisition of Millarworld is likely financially immaterial to Netflix, Raymond James analyst Justin Patterson said via email. He said his research showed comic book adaptations draw large audiences on the streaming service.

Netflix last month reported second-quarter revenue of $2.79 billion and net income of $65.6 million.

Millarworld will continue to create and publish new stories and franchises under the Netflix label, the company said.

Netflix also could expand further into consumer products. The company has stepped into merchandising with apparel and other products related to Stranger Things.

Shares of Netflix rose 0.6 percent to $181.37 on Nasdaq.



Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Music streaming service Spotify has seen a faster pace of growth since the launch in June last year of rival Apple Music, a top executive said on Monday.



Spotify, which was created in Stockholm 10 years ago, now boasts of having close to 100 million users in more than 59 markets, despite increasing competition and, so far, a lack of profits.

“It’s great that Apple is in the game. They are definitely raising the profile of streaming. It is hard to build an industry on your own,” Jonathan Forster, a vice president and one of its first employees, told Reuters in an interview.

“Since Apple Music started we’ve been growing quicker and adding more users than before.”

“It would be terrible if we were just taking each other’s users or to learn there was just a ceiling of 100 million users – I don’t think that is the case,” said Forster, who had just returned to Stockholm from the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in California.

Spotify now has 30 million paying users, making it the market leader in music streaming, while Apple Music has reported having 13 million paying subscribers since its launch last year in over 100 countries.

But the company is facing competition on more fronts than just Apple, from players such as Pandora Media Inc and newer rivals such as German start-up SoundCloud and US music producer and rapper Jay Z’s Tidal. Meanwhile Alphabet Inc’s Google is competing with both YouTube and Google Play Music.

Forster said having multiple streaming services was not sustainable in the long run.

“My Internet history would tell me that there’s probably not going to be that many significant players, and then maybe smaller niche cases … maybe there could be a classical music streaming service,” he said. “It’s a hard business.”

Asked about acquisition possibilities, Forster said future purchases would be on a similar scale to its recent deals in order to bring on new teams and technology.

“I wouldn’t be surprised to see Spotify continue to invest in areas that are relevant or adjacent to our business,” he said.

Revenues will continue to come largely from subscriptions but Spotify will also hunt for other income in areas such as concerts, merchandising and video, though Forster was quick to add that the company was “not trying to be a Netflix”.

The company on Monday launched a new video offering which will include exclusive content, like short, behind-the-scenes videos of artists.

And Spotify has no intention of slowing its pace of expansion, having said in March that it had raised $1 billion in convertible debt from US firms TPG Capital and Dragoneer Investment Group.

Forster said that it was reassuring that the company’s conversion rate for turning new users of the advertising-based service into subscribers, had held up at 25 to 30 percent, despite its user growth.

“That should have a negative effect on the conversion rate but it hasn’t,” he said.

Asked whether Spotify could be an acquisition target for a larger technology company like Google or Facebook, Forster said: “I’ve always felt Spotify likes being Spotify. We have fought to get to where we are today and we are quite happy and it would be emotionally hard not to be us, but who knows?”

“I think that people have really woken up to the opportunity of streaming. We can see that it is just the beginning. We’ve never grown quicker than we have.”

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

The entry of streaming pioneer Netflix in India is evolutionary in nature though its inaugural price is a bit on the higher side for what it offers, a leading US expert has said.

“I would say that the current price is a bit on the high side for what Netflix offers currently and it will have to keep increasing content quantity and quality over time to justify the price point,” said Puneet Manchanda, a professor of marketing at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan.

His areas of expertise are business in emerging markets, business in India and strategy and marketing issues.

Netflix’s global expansion is driven by three forces, he said.

First, Netflix needs to convince investors that it can keep growing. With the broadband market size outside the US about six times the size of the US market, any significant growth in the future will come from large international markets such as India.

Second, a large global reach can be a strong bargaining chip for Netflix in obtaining distribution rights from content providers.

Finally, Netflix’s vision is to be a content provider itself – this expansion exposes a large part of the world to original Netflix content, he said.

“In terms of entering India, Netflix can quickly capitalise on a large English speaking market. But, for the Indian media landscape, the current entry is more evolutionary rather than revolutionary as the English speaking market already has access to a lot of Netflix’s India content,” Manchanda said.

However, if Netflix can crack the vernacular market eg by producing content in local languages with local talent, it has the potential to be revolutionary, Manchanda said.

On Wednesday Netflix launched its service globally, simultaneously bringing its Internet TV network to more than 130 new countries around the world.

“Today you are witnessing the birth of a new global Internet TV network,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix in a key note address at CES 2016 in Las Vegas.

However, Netflix will not yet be available in China, though the company continues to explore options for providing the service. It also will not be available in Crimea, North Korea and Syria due to US government restrictions on American companies operating there.

Since its launch in 2007, Netflix has expanded globally, first to Canada, then to Latin America, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Japan.

In India, the service will be available under three monthly packs – Basic (Rs. 500), Standard (Rs. 650) and Premium (Rs. 800). Besides, users will get a month of free trial.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

When T-Mobile launched a new feature last month that let customers stream unlimited Netflix, HBO and Hulu over their data plans, there was a notable partner missing: YouTube.

Now, YouTube is accusing T-Mobile of degrading the quality of its videos, as well as those of other providers. In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, a YouTube official said T-Mobile is “throttling all video services” in what could amount to a violation of the government’s net neutrality rules.

YouTube’s complaint marks one of the first public objections by a major Internet company to T-Mobile’s program, known as Binge On. And it will likely draw further attention from regulators in Washington.

T-Mobile’s Binge On exempts specific online video channels from consumers’ data caps. As a result, subscribers who use the feature can watch as much Netflix as they want without fear of hitting their monthly data limit.

But there is also a catch. T-Mobile automatically enables Binge On for all customers with a 3 GB data plan or greater, whether they like it or not. At the same time, videos for consumers who don’t opt out of Binge On may get artificially downsampled to 480p – a lower quality than what they might otherwise get. This process makes streaming video more efficient, T-Mobile has said, and it is applied to all video content that people consume through Binge On, not just the special apps that enjoy the data-cap exemption under the program.

T-Mobile’s marketing claims that its video quality policy, as applied to non-Binge On partners like YouTube, still allows consumers to stretch their data plans three times as far. And it says Binge On streams video at 480p “or better,” hypothetically leaving open the possibility of higher-quality streams.

But by subjecting YouTube to that policy, and by requiring consumers to opt out rather than opt in to Binge On, T-Mobile risks running afoul of rules aimed at preventing discrimination online, activists say.

“Degrading video quality this way violates the FCC’s no-throttling part of the net neutrality rule, which forbids reducing the quality of an application or an entire class of applications,” wrote Marvin Ammori, a net neutrality lawyer, earlier this month in Slate.

The fact that even T-Mobile’s unlimited data customers also appear to be affected by Binge On’s lowered video quality (even though their unlimited plans largely preclude the need for degradation) is also worrisome, others say.

“T-Mobile’s new ‘streaming optimization’ program appears to involve throttling of all video traffic, across all data plans, regardless of network congestion,” said the Internet Association, a Washington trade group representing businesses such as Google, Netflix and Uber.

Officials from the Federal Communications Commission sent letters to T-Mobile this month, along with AT&T and Comcast, asking the companies to meet to explain their policies in greater detail. Those meetings are expected to happen early next year.

T-Mobile said Wednesday that it is working to expand its list of Binge On partner services, but declined to comment on YouTube’s allegations, referring to a tweet from company chief executive John Legere:

“Our customers (heart) #BingeOn – streaming video w/o hitting their data bucket AND complete control to turn it on/off at will!”

A YouTube spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Streaming pioneer Netflix cleaned up at the Golden Globe nominations Thursday, leading the TV nods with eight and earning one for its first feature film, reflecting the rise of online studios in producing original content.

The nominations scored by Netflix for the 73rd Golden Globe Awards came for six different scripted series from repeat contenders “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black” to new drug cartel drama “Narcos.”

Other digital broadcasters also did well, with Amazon earning five nominations and Hulu nabbing its first.

Cable broadcasters trailed behind their digital peers, with perennial awards giant HBO earning seven nominations and Starz getting six.

Traditional networks ABC, CBS and Fox meanwhile combined for a paltry nine nominations. And NBC, the network broadcasting the Golden Globes from Beverly Hills on January 10, was entirely left out in the cold.

“When Netflix started not so long ago, it was a company that delivered DVDs via the post office,” Robert Thompson, professor of television and popular culture at Syracuse University, told AFP.

“Today they are turning out to be one of the most exciting places on television … and now for feature film as well.”

Netflix scored its first Globe in a film category for African war drama “Beasts of No Nation,” which debuted a few months ago simultaneously on Netflix’s streaming service and in a select number of theaters.

Idris Elba earned a best supporting actor nomination for his searing turn as the leader of a group of child soldier rebels.

“We are very proud of the nine nominations, and of the creative talent doing such amazing work for Netflix members around the world,” the company’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos told industry magazine Variety.

Netflix has won fans with its original content, which it uses to differentiate itself from competitors and attract new subscribers to its video streaming on-demand service.

It also made a breakthrough with this week’s Screen Actors Guild (SAG) nominations, earning 10 nods and again overtaking HBO for the first time in a top awards context.

Tom Nunan, a lecturer at UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, described Netflix’s gains as a “historic” achievement that will help place it on a par with major studios.

“Netflix and HBO are now the two buyers with the deepest pockets in Hollywood,” he said.

‘The place to be’
Netflix earned nominations for shows with a wide range of themes.

Both “Narcos” and “Orange is the New Black” a comedy set in a women’s prison scored two nominations each for best drama series and comedy series, respectively, and one acting prize each.

Netflix’s flagship political thriller “House of Cards” earned one nod, for best actress contender Robin Wright.

Actress Lily Tomlin, who has been making a comeback at age 76, was nominated for best actress in a comedy for “Grace and Frankie.”

The series, co-starring Jane Fonda, tells the tale of two women who are sworn enemies, but find common ground when their husbands come out as gay and start dating each other.

Comedian Aziz Ansari earned an acting nod for his new series “Master of None,” and Ben Mendelsohn is up for a best supporting actor prize for family drama series “Bloodline.”

For Syracuse University’s Thompson, Netflix’s impressive Globes showing across its slate of series further cements its role as a force to be reckoned with in the industry.

“They no sooner started doing original programming in 2013 that they became the place to be,” he told AFP.

Elba one of several double Globes nominees along with Tomlin told Entertainment Weekly he was “floored and humbled.”

“It’s such a huge honor to be recognized by my friends and peers and for two projects that have really been such an important part of my life,” said Elba, whose second nod came for best actor in a limited series for BBC America’s “Luther.”

The SAG and Globe nominations this week sent the Hollywood awards season into full gear, with Tinseltown headed for the Oscars on February 28.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Netflix is raising the price of its Internet video service by $1 for new customers in the US, Canada and some Latin America countries to help cover its escalating costs for shows such as “House of Cards” and other original programming.

The new price of $10 (roughly Rs. 640) per month for Netflix’s standard plan – its most popular – marks the second time in 17 months that Los Gatos, California, company has boosted its US rates by $1. The trend reflects the financial pressure that Netflix is facing as it competes against Amazon, HBO and other services for the rights to TV series and movies that will expand its audience.

Netflix’s 42 million existing US subscribers are being insulated from the price bump. That’s a move CEO Reed Hastings is taking in an effort to avoid a repeat of the customer backlash that stung the company four years ago when it raised rates by as much as 60 percent for subscribers who wanted Internet video and DVD-by-mail rentals.

The abrupt price increase in 2011 triggered an exodus that cost Netflix more than 800,000 subscribers and caused its stock to lose 80 percent of its value in a tumultuous 13-month period.

The experience taught Netflix to reward its existing subscribers as higher prices are phased in on new customers.

Subscribers who have been with Netflix since May 2014 will still pay $8 (roughly Rs. 512) per month under a two-year rate freeze adopted when the company last raised its US prices by $1 (roughly Rs. 64). Customers who signed up since the last price increase will pay $9 (roughly Rs. 576) per month until October 2016.

Netflix’s audience continued to expand after last year’s price increase, a pattern that investors appear confident that will be occur again with the latest uptick in rates. Netflix’s stock surged $6.83, or 6.8 percent, to $114.93 Thursday.

Wall Street has been hoping Netflix would increase its prices because its profit margins have been shrinking as the company’s expenses climb for programming and an aggressive international expansion.

Netflix Inc.’s programming costs are expected to rise from $3 billion (roughly Rs. 19,431 crores) this year to $5 billion (roughly Rs. 32,386 crores) next year. The research firm Ampere Analysis predicts Netflix will be paying $6 billion (roughly Rs. 38,863 crores) annually for its line-up by 2018.

Some of that money is being spent on previously released TV series and movies, but Netflix is pouring more money for shows that can only be found on its service – a formula that has been highly successful for HBO’s pay-TV channel.

The strategy has paid off for Netflix too as its US customer base has swelled by about 70 percent from 25 million subscribers since the 2013 debut of “House of Cards,” the service’s first major splash in original programming. Netflix now features dozens of exclusive programs.

Netflix’s higher price might help Amazon’s rival Internet video service, which is sold with a bundle of other features that includes free shipping from Amazon’s online store for $99 annually, or $8.25 per month.

Some analysts, though, view Netflix’s biggest competition as HBO, which sells an Internet-only version of its channel for $15 per month.

HBO’s price may give Netflix leeway to raise its prices even further, according to Per Sjofors, CEO of consulting firm Atenga. His analysis of customer sentiment concluded Netflix could charge as much as $13 per month for its standard Internet plan without hurting its growth.

Netflix’s standard plan allows subscribers to stream video on as many as two different devices simultaneously and watch programs in high definition. A basic plan available to new customers for $8 per month limits watching to just one screen, with no high-definition option.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Virtual reality won’t just be another technology for hard-core nerds, if Mark Zuckerberg gets his way.

Facebook Inc.’s Oculus will sell movies, video games and streaming services via its virtual reality headsets, seeking to make the devices more appealing to average consumers, the company announced during a presentation in Hollywood on Thursday. Partners include 21st Century Fox Inc. and Lions Gate Entertainment, the studios behind “Gone Girl” and “The Hunger Games,” Minecraft and video game service Twitch Interactive Inc., as well as streaming services such as Netflix and Hulu.

Facebook is betting virtual reality will be the next main technology and communication platform, a new way for people to watch videos, play games and share vignettes from their daily lives. Video sharing has grown 40 percent on Facebook since the start of the year, the social-networking company said on its most recent earnings call, and the company introduced 360-degree videos in collaboration with Oculus earlier this week.

“In just a few years, virtual reality has gone from the science fiction dream to an awesome reality,” Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive officer, said during the presentation. “Right now we’re entering the golden age of video and animation; most of what people share and experience is moving. After video, it’s VR.”

Zuckerberg cautioned that initial sales of virtual reality devices would be small, as consumers get used to the new technology. Many of these movies and services will be available first on Samsung Electronics’s Gear headset, which uses Oculus technology.

Samsung unveiled a new version of the headset that will cost $99, a price Samsung Mobile Senior Vice President Peter Koo said will help bring virtual reality to the mainstream. Samsung’s headset needs a smartphone to work.

Facebook will begin to sell the Oculus Rift, its first consumer virtual reality headset, early next year. It will cost about $1,500 (roughly Rs. 10,000), including the computer required to run the device, according to a recent story in Vanity Fair. The Rift is the most-anticipated product in a market projected to reach almost $16 billion (roughly Rs. 1,05,880 crores) by 2020, according to researcher MarketsandMarkets.

Facebook’s $2 billion acquisition of Oculus VR last year spurred other companies to accelerate or develop their virtual reality plans. Google Inc. sells the low-cost Cardboard kit for turning phones into headsets, while Sony Corp. is working on a virtual reality headset to complement its PlayStation gaming device, and has said it will begin selling PlayStation VR next year.

Gaming is what first inspired Oculus founder Palmer Luckey to develop Oculus. He made a brief appearance Thursday to announce that Minecraft would be available on Oculus headsets next year.

Thursday’s announcements also signaled Hollywood’s growing interest in virtual reality. Fox said it was the first major studio to sell movies in the Oculus store. Beginning next week, users will be able to purchase more than 100 movies from the studio, including “Alien” and “X-Men: Days of Future Past.”

“We are just scratching the surface of how Hollywood and VR will revolutionize entertainment by exploring innovative ways to develop immersive experiences as a new storytelling medium,” Mike Dunn, President of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said in a statement.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

US online giant Amazon said Thursday it was launching its streaming video service in Japan along with its Fire TV devices.

“Prime members in Japan now have unlimited 24/7 streaming of thousands of US and Japanese movies, TV shows, anime, music concerts and more, at no additional cost to their Prime membership,” which is 3,900 yen or around $32 a year, Amazon said in a statement.

Amazon is moving into video in Japan with the same formula it has used in the United States, Britain, Germany and Austria, with a wide range of programs offered to its Prime members, who pay an annual fee.

Amazon will also sell its Fire TV streaming media box and Fire TV Stick to make it easier to stream video.

The devices may also be used to stream programs from rival services such as Hulu and Netflix. And Amazon videos may be streamed from devices made by other manufacturers including Apple’s iPads and iPhones, Android phones and tablets and Sony PlayStation consoles.

Amazon last week unveiled a major home electronics push for the US market, led by a $50 tablet computer and other devices aimed at budget-conscious, gadget-hungry consumers.

The latest Fire TV devices, which compete with products from Apple as well as Roku and Google, allow users to stream in high-definition 4K.

Japanese viewers will have access to TV Asahi’s variety series Summers Summers, popular anime shows such as Yokai Watch and movies like Tanteiha Bar Niiru and Shirayukihime Satsujin Jiken, Amazon said.

Also available will be Amazon’s original shows and US programs which may be dubbed or subtitled.

The move comes just weeks after Netflix launched its streaming television service in Japan. Netflix said in February it planned to launch this year in Japan, following rollouts in Australia and New Zealand in March.

Currently with some 65 million subscribers in over 50 countries, Netflix has set an ambitious goal to be in 200 markets by the end of 2016.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Microsoft on Wednesday announced an expanded parental leave policy for its US-based employees, a day after a similar move by streaming television giant Netflix.
The tech giant said that from November 1, it would offer full pay for 12 weeks to new mothers and fathers, plus eight additional weeks of maternity disability, bringing the total for mothers to 20 weeks.

Until now, Microsoft had offered four weeks paid and eight weeks unpaid time off for new parents in addition to maternity disability.

“When I look at how rapidly the traditional workplace is changing, not just at Microsoft, but throughout business in general, I see a tremendous opportunity for companies to put a stake in the ground around what they believe in and what kind of culture they want to build together with employees,” Microsoft vice president for human resources Kathleen Hogan said in a blog post.

“As we ask our employees to bring their ‘A’ game to work every day to achieve our mission, we believe it’s our responsibility to create an environment where people can do their best work. A key component of this is supporting our employees with benefits that matter most to them.”

Microsoft said it was adding two new paid holidays, Martin Luther King Day in January and Presidents’ Day in February, bringing the total to 12, including two floating holidays. It also is boosting the company contribution for its retirement saving plan, known as a 401k.

The new policy affects some 60,000 US-based Microsoft employees. Hogan said that outside the United States, “we will continue to review what’s offered in each country and work to align to our global benefits philosophy and the local regulations and dynamics in each market.”

The move comes a day after Netflix announced it is offering up to one year of paid parental leave to both male and female employees after the birth of a child.

Netflix said the move was aimed at boosting job satisfaction and retaining top talent.

“We want employees to have the flexibility and confidence to balance the needs of their growing families without worrying about work or finances,” Tawni Cranz from Netflix said late Tuesday.

“Parents can return part-time, full-time, or return and then go back out as needed. We’ll just keep paying them normally,” Cranz said.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)

Video streaming pioneer Netflix Inc added more subscribers than projected in the United States and abroad during the first quarter, news that sent its shares up nearly 12 percent on Wednesday.
Net subscriber additions rose 22 percent year-over-year to 4.88 million in the March quarter, beating the company’s forecast of 4.05 million.

The company that shook up television with original shows such as “House of Cards” has been aggressively building its overseas presence as growth slows in the United States. It launched services in Australia and New Zealand in the quarter and expects to start in Japan later this year.

Netflix added 2.6 million customers in its nearly 50 international markets in the quarter ended March 31, bringing the total to 62.27 million users worldwide.

Customers spent more time than ever watching Netflix, streaming 10 billion hours of programming in the quarter, the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Reed Hastings said fresh content including the third season of “House of Cards” and new series “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt” and “Bloodline” helped bring in new customers.

“We’ve continued to focus on the same things over the last couple years, improving the content, improving the streaming, improving the user interface, and we’ve seen the rewards of that in continued growth,” Hastings told analysts during a webcast.

The company said it expects to sign up 600,000 more U.S. customers in the current quarter, plus 2.5 million worldwide.

Netflix shares rose 11.6 percent to $530.90 in after-hours trading.

The company has been investing in original shows to fend off competition from Time Warner Inc’s HBO, Amazon.com and Hulu, as well as on-demand offerings from pay TV providers.

Netflix said retention of customers improved in the United States. “As they build up their catalogue of original titles, they’re going to keep more and more customers,” Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said.

The company also said it would ask its board to approve a stock split.

Revenue rose to $1.57 billion from $1.27 billion a year earlier.

Spending on international expansion hit first-quarter earnings, which more than halved to $23.7 million, or 38 cents per share.

Netflix said the strong dollar hurt its financial results. Excluding foreign exchange losses, the company said it earned 77 cents per share.

Analysts on average had expected a profit of 69 cents per share on revenue of $1.57 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Source : (gadgets.ndtv.com)