Amazon Prime Video has finally arrived

Amazon Prime Video

Amazon finally launched its long expected Netflix competitor Amazon Prime Video today. The American technology giant claims availability in over 200 countries and territories in the world which means basically everywhere (officially there are 195 countries) and starts with a very competitive pricing. After a trial period of 6 months the monthly fee goes up from 2,99 to 5,99 which is almost half the price of a Netflix subscription.

Content wise, there is a mix of existing films and series and Amazon Originals. Movies like The Godfather trilogy, Pulp Fiction, Grease and Ace Venture) and TV-shows like Justified, The Shield and Seinfeld are well known blockbusters. BBC Top Gear successor The Grand Tour is probably the best known Amazon Original.

There is the Amazon Prime app for watching the movies and series on phones, tables or smart-tv’s (up t0 3 devices) and it is also possible to watch using a browser. Just like Netflix recently launched, Amazon allows  downloads as well in order to watch offline.

A nice feature that Amazon Prime Video provides is the integration with IMDb. Amazon bought the Internet Movie Database back in 1998 and uses the data to enhance video content. Hoovering ones mouse whilst watching an episode or film triggers an overlay displaying the names of the actors and actresses in that particular scene. Also the artist of a particular part of a soundtrack can be pulled up like that. Very nifty.

No Sony TVii for Europe

Sony Nintendo TVii

It is known worldwide that the European continent is a little more complex than, for instance, the USA in the sense that it actually is a collection of different countries with different languages and legislation. But this never stopped companies like Netflix in an attempt to concur the old world with a Video On Demand service.
Sony however does not feel it is ready to do the same. The Japanse giant has decided to stick to North America and Japan with their TV / video service for their popular Nintendo Wii game console dubbed TVii.

This decision might mean the end of the TVii project since it will become increasingly more difficult to get premium content as a small player in the very competitive VOD market And gamers are usually very critical consumers. On the other hand, most of them probably will use Popcorn Time anyway.

NimbleTV takes a break


In a letter to their subscribers, NimbleTV explains that they have to “pause the NimbleTV service as it stands today so we can concentrate on developing something even better and more amazing than before”.

With the NimbleTV services it was possible to stream up to 140 tv channels to any other connected device. Subscribers still needed a cable subscription which made it complementary to cable providers. Next to live streaming the channels to other devices, NimbleTV earned money with their cloud DVR services.

Since the company could have chosen to develop a new service or platform next to the current one instead of going dark, it feels like there are others reasons for the break. Maybe the company ran out of funds, maybe there are legal issues, but it seems not very likely to see the company resurface.

TVTag (GetGlue) is no more


Earlier this year GetGlue rebranded into tvtag trying to create a fresh start for the social TV checking service after is was sold to i.TV. Too little too late it seems since the service is shutting down. Users can request a copy of their data by sending an email to [email protected].

It is unclear if and how this will effect i.TV as a company and if certain features from tvtag are being included in their TV Guide app. The Android app has not been updated since April 2013 and the website of the company does not appear to have been updated recently. Time will tell.

The Fire TV stick is Amazons answer to Google Chromecast

Amazon Fire TV Stick

Although priced at little higher (USD 39), Amazon did not do any effort to hide what they are after. With their streaming media stick they want a piece of the pie of a market that is dominated by Chromecast. Yes, there are also sticks from Roku, Microsoft en Matchstick, but so far the dominant player is Google.

But there are differences. Chromecast can play anything from a chrome tab on your television and mobile apps can also have the option to view the content on the big screen by pushing a button. The Amazon comes with a W-Fi Direct remote control but who wants another remote in the living room? Luckily there is also an app for your mobile device and Amazon is supporting Miracast, allowing one to mirror their mobile device with the tv which is different from the approach Google has chosen for Chromecast. One can also fling content to the television set making it a very easy to operate.

As for the interface, it is using the same as the Amazon Fire TV interface.

Apart from its own video on demand service Prime Instant Video, Amazon offers apps for Netflix, Hulu, Hulu, WatchESPN, NBA Game Time, Twitch, SHOWTIME ANYTIME, Prime Music, Spotify, Pandora, Vevo, Plex, A&E, PBS, PBS KIDS, WATCH Disney Channel, and more. See for all details the page at Amazon.

Nevertheless, the stick will probably work fine and is even cheaper for current Amazon Prime subscribers (USD 19) for the next two days so one might give it a try.

Peel gets a USD 50 million investment from Alibaba

Peel Smart Remote

Peel released the news that Alibaba invested a serious amount of money this spring in the global smart remote companay. With the USD 50 million from the e-commerce giant, the total investment in Peel totals to USD 95 million.

Alibaba was already one of the investors in Peel. But because of the IPO, the investment was kept quite until after the listing.

According to Peel, Alibaba is acting like a traditional investor but it does make sense that both companies are going to work together as well, for instance on certain e-commerce solutions for TV using Peel for recommendations and ordering.

One other area Peel might move into is connected home / smart home. With the Peel remote it would be possible to control all connected devices in houses.

Is Apple using your TV to enter your house?

Apple TV with HomeKit

With the acquisition of the NEST, Google found a way to enter your home. The NEST could become a platform and a future hub for a connected or smart house. Apple did not have such an entry point yet, but might have found one. The latest beta-release of the Apple TV software includes support for HomeKit.

The Apple TV will use CloudKit to store and access the necessary information of the devices and iCloud Keychain to store paired keys making it possible to remotely access your Philips Hue lights from the office or any other device that supports HomeKit and is connected to the Apple TV.

This could boost the development of a whole new range of connected devices for the smart home. The question now is whether Apple is going to develop these new products as well.

Plex will now let you stream your own video’s on your Xbox

Plex for Xbox

Gaming and video are growing closer and closer to each other. One can see others play on Twitch and the game Myst will get its own TV series anytime soon. So it does make sense that gaming and video hardware are becoming more integrated as well. For instance by using your game console to watch your favourite series.

The Microsoft Xbox platform already has apps from Netflix, Amazon Instant Video and Hulu Plus but now it is also possible to stream all video you have stored on your own computer, NAS or external harddrive directly to your TV using the Plex for Xbox app.

Plex has been around for some time and offers a great service by generating a nice overview of all your video and photo’s and helping you to sort them and download posters and other metadata.

Plex for Xbox will be available for free for Plex Pass premium subscribers. Users of the free service have to wait a little and will be asked a small one-time fee for using the app.

Finally, a film is launched at the same time online as in theater


Life on the old continent is pretty comfortable but it comes with some disadvantages every now and then. Feeling last in line is one of them. New software? First available in the US. New products? Only shipping to America. New films or series, sorry, you have got to wait. At least a few months. And though a lot of people find ways to watch new shows (and even films) the same day they are broadcasted, it is not the preferred way. The quality is not always as good as you like, no subs or worse, dubs or hardcoded subtitles in a language you do not understand and it feels not entire right.

Enter Netflix. After all these years of being the victim of the windowing system – the system the traditional film industry used to milk as much money as possible out of every production (past tense, I doubt this is still the case), the VOD-company is trying to take on this system

Together with the Weinstein Company Netflix will bring the sequel of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (The Green Legend) on the big screen in your house and the cinema at the same time. The original film is still available on Netflix and absolutely worthwhile to see, so check this out before the sequel is released in 2015. However, I enjoyed the first film in theatre because of the beautiful graphics. So I might even go and see the sequel there as well. In the end this might be even the best outcome of this experiment. Finally the consumer has a choice. Even though the film is available on Netflix, some will go to the cinema because of the different experience.

We’ll see!

Discontinued: Tesco will stop its streaming service Clubcard TV

Clubcard TV

Although it was a bold move to start their own streaming service, the British supermarket chain Tesco is already putting in end to it. In a way the idea behind it makes sense. At least if you know the history of television and know where the word soap opera comes from. But that was a different time with very little choice in lineair programming. These days, in a world of abundance with so much to watch, even traditional linear tv itself finds it increasingly difficult to compete with new companies like Netflix. Let alone a supermarket that was probably only able to get their hands on old reruns.

The above does not mean that video is a bad idea for Tesco. But they should focus on creating their own content around the topics they are good at. Why not start a cooking channel on YouTube, a video channel on how to use their products of even a food travel show to take the customer on a journey to the origin of the Tesco assortment. And this is just what I could come up with in 2 minutes.