It’s been a while since I’ve touched on the topic of Xbox One and PS4 and the whole “multimedia entertainment hub“ idea. I’ve been going back and forth on which system I want to buy, but for those who may have read about my never-ending quest to buy a new TV, you know I’m not the most decisive consumer in the world.
Since their respective releases, PS4 has outsold Xbox One. According to this Forbes report, PS4 sold about a million more units than Xbox One in 2013 and PS4 sales were nearly double those of Xbox One in the United States in January 2014. Why is PS4 winning so far? I wish I had a definitive answer (since it would help me choose which gaming system to get), but this analysis of the two is consistent with most I’ve read: PS4’s graphics looks much better and it’s $100 cheaper. Read more
According to a study recently released by The Diffusion Group (TDG), more than six in 10 U.S. households have at least one television connected to the Internet in order to access content from online services such as Netflix and Pandora.
The study, “Benchmarking the Connected Consumer, 2014,” finds that 63% of U.S. households have at least one net-connected television, up from 53% in 2013.
“Though broadband diffusion may be slowing as the market matures, the expansion of broadband-connected TVs continues at a rapid clip, up 19% in the past year,” said TDG President and Director of Research Michael Greeson.
The study further found that 42% of connected TV owners report having two or more Internet-connected televisions.
“Whether net-to-TV will somehow topple traditional pay-TV service models has been a red herring from the beginning,” said Greeson. “The real debate is the extent to which the growing availability and expanding use of ‘OTT TV’ services will have on the time viewers spend watching traditional pay-TV given the growing array of sources at their disposal.”
In conducting the study, TDG randomly surveyed 1,500 adults that subscribe to a home broadband service. According to a company press release, the study “examines a broad array of behaviors across a multitude of net-connected devices, from net-connected TVs to tablets, and from PCs to smartphones.”
Unlike a number of folks, I do not look at my smartphone or use any social media while watching TV. During the last football season, I went to a bar with five friends to watch a game and three of my buddies were using their phones during much of the game, monitoring their fantasy teams and chatting with other players on social media, while simultaneously attempting to watch the game on the TV. I prefer to focus on the game, and my beer (PBR in a can!) and my wings (hot!). Plus, my fantasy team (and my real team, the Detroit Lions) usually stink, so talking trash on social media doesn’t have much allure for me.
Watching TV while using social media is referred to as the “second screen,” in other words, people who talk about a TV show on social media. Obviously it is pretty important for advertisers who want to target certain consumers. Read more
A lot going on with Netflix these days — new pricing, an opening shot in the Net Neutrality debate; I can’t seem to open up my favorite tech blogs without their name popping up.
First, this week brought a few announcements on Netflix pricing. An announcement about a price increase for new customers in Ireland, that won’t apply to existing customers for two years, brought some speculation that it could signal a similar increase in the United States. But Netflix has said that it is not considering any price increases in the United States right now, at least not for new customers.
But, CEO Reed Hastings did say on an investors conference call last Friday that some pricing-structure changes are on the way. Right now, Netflix has an $8-per-month plan that allows for two simultaneous streams and a $12-per-month plan that allows for four streams at one time. Hasting said that Netflix has been testing multiple tiers, and that the goal is to adopt three new pricing tiers that should be easy for consumers to understand. However, he insisted that the company is not in a hurry to change prices and it is just testing options for now. Read more
Google has announced the launch of a video quality report that is apparently intended to inform end-users about the performance of their Internet Service Provider (ISP), based on how well YouTube videos are delivered to customers. Results will reportedly be available first for Canadian ISPs. For now, the report’s website provides basic details on how videos are distributed via the Internet, while also discussing factors such as congestion, caching and home networks. The objective, according to Google, is to “present a rating that is meaningful, easy to understand and one that closely reflects the real world Internet experience.”
Google also notes that variables such as users’ access speed, local network availability, server configuration and capacity, etc., all can impact end-users’ video quality. The company also mentions peering, stating that under its open peering policy, Google will directly interconnect with any ISP that can reach its 70 points of presence “without charge.” Google says that ratings will be based on the sustained speeds at which videos are transferred, in addition to other factors such as time of day and location. Google will provide ratings for both standard- and high-definition videos.
The new report appears comparable to Netflix’s ISP Speed Index, which compares ISPs based on measurements the company says indicates the best “Netflix experience.” Some have observed that ISPs using Netflix’s content delivery network (CDN) do better in this comparison. In a similar vein, there is speculation that deflecting blame for poor video quality is at least part of the reason Google has begun this new initiative. Whatever the motives, Google’s video quality reports are likely to be brought to users’ attention and used as an indicator of broadband performance in the near future.
AccuWeather has announced plans to launch a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week weather channel beginning in the third quarter of this year.
The new channel is posed to be a direct competitor to the Weather Channel. In a direct dig at the competition, an AccuWeather press release claims that the new AccuWeather Channel will serve its audience by “keeping the focus on forecasts, not fluff—All Weather, All the Time.”
AccuWeather pushed up the date of its announcement in light of the Weather Channel’s ongoing battle with DirecTV. A dispute over fees has resulted in the Weather Channel being blacked out from DirecTV’s lineup for the past two weeks.
“Our focus has always been weather forecasts delivered in a way that helps people make decisions to improve their lives—their safety, health, activities and travel,” said AccuWeather Inc. founder and president Dr. Joel N. Myers. “With over 50 years of experience, AccuWeather knows what people want in weather programming.”
Plans call for the AccuWeather Channel to be streamed on AccuWeather.com and other Internet sites, as well as through media partner affiliate mobile and Internet sites and to be available through cable and satellite carriers.
The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear the highly controversial lawsuits broadcasters have filed against Aereo, an over-the-top video content provider. Expectations were perhaps unrealistically raised in some quarters that the court will resolve key retransmission and copyright issues relatively quickly. However, it is important to remember that no court has yet ruled on the basic question of the legality of the practice whereby Aereo, and others, provide consumers with over-the-air broadcast content via broadband. Instead, various courts have either issued, or declined to issue, injunctions against the practice while the merits of the case are decided.
Broadcasters have unsuccessfully sought injunctions against Aereo in multiple markets, although they have obtained injunctions against Aereo’s rival, FilmOn, which uses the same underlying practice to deliver video content. Broadcasters asked the Supreme Court to review the cases against Aereo where their injunction requests were denied. Aereo then agreed that the cases should be elevated to and consolidated at the Supreme Court, as the video provider hopes to avoid multiple injunction battles across the country. Read more