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

Netflix

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!

Sony to sign a deal with Viacom for its cloud-based TV service

Sony strikes deal with Viacom

Sony announced the service early this year at the CES promising a combination of live television, on demand and DVR. But no cloud without good content and good content is rather difficult to obtain. So where others have failed (Intel, Google) or are still working on it (no news about the Apple TV yesterday), Sony seems to have found a way to do business by striking a deal with Viacom. Sony will be allowed to distribute 22 of the Viacom channels over the internet, including popular channels like Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon.

Although it looks like a breakthrough, the only new thing here is the ability to access traditional lineair channels over IP and therefore on other devices than the TV set and the (technical) possibility to sell contracts anywhere in the world. However, it still will be (mostly) linear TV and Sony might encounter problems in countries where these Viacom channels are already being distributed by traditional cable companies.

Furthermore, one of the biggest reasons Netflix is so extremely popular has to do with the fact that they provide on demand content only. Somehow people seem to like this, so it has to be seen if the new Sony service is something that will attract the coach potatoes attention.

It is finally here, the Amazon Fire TV

Amazon Fire TV

The long rumoured Amazon streaming media box has finally arrived. Meet Amazon Fire TV. The Fire TV is a small, black box that runs on a special operating system, has 2GB ram and a quad core processor.

The box connects through wifi and has a small remote control that also has a small microphone to enable voice search

Content comes from its own Amazon Instant Video library as well as from a large number of partners like Netflix, HBO GO, SHO Anytime, Hulu and ESPN.

But it is not all streaming video that one can watch on the Fire TV. Amazon added a photo app, there are several music services like Pandora, iHeartRadio and TuneIn and Amazon is promising to grant access to thousands of games as of next month.

The media box costs only USD 99 and is already for sale at… Amazon.com

Finally you can watch LOVEfilm on your iPhone now

LOVEfilm

Whereas most services are available on the iPhone first, Amazon’s LOVEfilm took its time producing an app for the popular smartphone. Until now. Next to the obvious Kindle platform (also Amazon) and the iPad there is a LOVEfilm Instant app for iPhone and iPod allowing streaming video and TV on demand.
The app also brings AirPlay and IMDB integration.

Tight integration with Comcast turns Twitter into a TV remote control

Twitter NBC

We have known for sometime that Twitter is taking TV very seriously as users are already using Twitter heavily during linear programs and advertisers and networks are looking for ways too tap in these massive twitter streams. Today Twitter announced a deal with Comcast promising a tight integration that will go beyond chatting.

During shows like The Voice, Twitter users will see a “See it” button in NBCUniversal tweets about this show. Clicking on the button will open a Twitter card and, if you are already a Comcast pay TV subscriber (Xfinity), even give you the opportunity to watch or record the show directly from your set top-box, computer of mobile device making it a almost some sort of social remote control.

Not clear yet is if tweets from ordinary users talking about a show will contain the “See it” button as well. That might create even a bigger impact.

If this is a success, other networks might join and making watching TV a new experience. Especially if not only networks, but also VOD and Streaming Services like Netflix are included. One other thing that would be great is a sharing option that allows a Twitter user to invite another Twitter user to watch the show via a tweet.

Google Play now serves Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, The Wire and more

The Wire

In a surprise move, Google has negotiated a deal with HBO, offering seven popular series via Google Play. This means that the series have to be bought per episode iTunes style instead of just watching what you want for a fixed fee like Netflix is offering. The price for a normal episode is between USD 1,99 and USD 2,99 with an extra surcharge of a dollar for HD. And more series will be added as Google states this is only the beginnning of their partnership with HBO. For now, Google will offer Game of Thrones, The Newsroom, Girls, Boardwalk Empire, Veep, True Blood, and The Wire.

It is such a surprise since Google seemed to be focussing only on access so far. Google TV and Google Chromecast are both Android based solution that offer a broad range of online video on your television provided by third parties. And YouTube of course. But so far, Google was rather absent on the content market.

Since the Spotify model seems to be the winning model, the shows have been aired elsewhere before and the deal only allows US citizens to buy the episodes, it is not that big a revolution. Yet. Let’s just see what is going to happen in the near future. Google has finally released a Spotify competitor for music. And they do have a very valuable asset with YouTube. Maybe this is just the beginning and is Google about to take on Netflix. Time will tell.

The future of TV according to Kevin Spacey

“Give people what they want, when they want it, in the form they want it in at a reasonable price and they more likely pay for it than steal it.” That is in short what Kevin Spacey thinks tv should give to people in order to survive. Spacey also predicts that any differentiations between platforms will disappear saying that “the device and the length are irrelevant, the labels are useless” meaning that the more or less artificial difference between a TV show or film will disappear.

It seems that Spacey is not on only a good actor but also a true visionary when it comes to streaming content.

Kevin Spacey shared his thoughts in the James MacTaggart Memorial Lecture at the Edinburgh Television Festival on on 22 August 2013

 

Chromecast is getting more support pretty fast, VEVO, Blip and Devour added, Hulu and HBO Go in development.

Google Chromecast

Both Hulu and HBO Go announced that they are working on apps for Chromecast. Just like Vimeo and Redbox Instant did already, now joined by VEVO, Blip and Devour. With the original sources Netflix, YouTube, and Google Play the support for Chromecast is getting traction.

Chromecast just launched a week ago and is the USB dongle variant of the Nexus Q TV-Box that for now is to co-exist with Google TV. The HDMI-dongle is available for just USD 35, although currently sold-out.

Netflix introduces individual user profiles for more personalization

Netflix

With the introduction of user profiles, Netflix customers do no longer suffer odd recommendations based on the shows watched by their kids or spouses. Every subscriber can create up to five profiles and whilst registering the user is asked to add one or more categories. After completing the process, users will – hopefully – get better recommendations on what to watch so that they actually will watch more. Because that is obviously the intention of Netflix.

Netflix has already started to roll-out the new functionality slowly as of today and is expecting all customers having access to it in the next few weeks.