Category Archives: Internet

Streaming TV: Is Amazon Prime the Jester?

Netflix is the King of streaming TV. Hulu is the Prince. Is Amazon Prime the Jester? Is Amazon relevant in this online streaming war? Amazon has made huge strides in online shopping. However, online video streaming is a different story for Amazon.

amazon primeLet’s begin with Amazon Prime vs Netflix. Prime costs a dollar less per month than Netflix which is nice, but is it really? According to money expert Matt Granite from USA Today, he says that Netflix has more selection and a better interface than Amazon. However, Amazon Prime gives you free two-day shipping and unlimited photo storage.

Next is Hulu. According to Business Insider, Hulu costs $7.99 per month (with ads) while Prime is about $8.25 per month. So Hulu is cheaper (at the expense of watching ads), but what does that mean for Amazon Instant Video? Well, Amazon does not have ads, but Hulu can get you the latest television episodes.

If you want to know how many subscribers each video streaming service has, here are some statistics. Netflix has more than 86 million subscribers worldwide (CNN Money), Amazon Prime has around 60 million subscribers (CNBC), and Hulu has around 12 million (CNN Money).

Amazon Prime Man In The High Castle

According to Caroline Nolan from The Street, “Without Amazon Prime membership, you will be paying $12 on average for two-day shipping on each purchase.” (Nolan, 1). If I bought two items from Amazon every month with two-day shipping without Prime, that would equal around $288 every year. However, this is shopping and spending all that extra money might be a problem!

I think a huge obstacle with Amazon Prime is their name. When people think of Amazon Prime, they think online shopping and not online video streaming. What Amazon needs is a clever name, and I might be able to help.

What Amazon should have called their online video streaming service is Amazon River. That is clever compared to Amazon Prime or Amazon Instant Video. It helps Amazon by making them more diversified. So Jeff Bezos, if you’re reading this, call me.

Anyway, when it comes to online video streaming, Netflix is the King (or Queen), Amazon is the Prince (or Princess), and Hulu seems to be lowly Jester. Amazon is relevant in the streaming wars, but I think they need to work on their identity. So, Amazon is relevant, but at the same time they almost aren’t, due to an undefined identity.

So, which is the best? Well, it depends. If you want television shows and you want it cheap, you can choose Hulu. If you want television and movies together, you can choose Netflix. If you are an online shopper and are not much of a television watcher but still want online video streaming, you can choose Amazon Prime.

What also matters is what shows and movies you want to watch. Amazon has Transparent and The Man in the High Castle, Netflix has Stranger Things and Luke Cage, and Hulu has The Awesomes and The Mindy Project.

I have also received word that Hulu has struck a deal with Disney and Fox to have live sports. This is exciting to see and unexpected to see. We’ll see what happens to Hulu in the future. This of course is a conversation for a different time.

Personally, I love Amazon Prime. I have had it for about a couple years now and I am quite satisfied with the two-day shipping and television shows. That is of course when I have time to watch them. The Man in the High Castle is pretty good.

What do you think about the streaming wars? Do you have Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime, or all three? Comment below and tell me what you think.

Kyle Konigsmark

Watching OTT: Is The Selection of Devices Over The Top?

With the rise in popularity of watching content online through streaming services, many companies are looking to create devices to make watching a variety content easier on your TV. These devices can be stand-alone products like Google’s Chromecast or TV’s with similar features from manufacturers like LG. These devices are making our TV watching experience more enjoyable, but with some many devices out there, which one should people go with? We will take a look at the different products and see which device may be the best investment for the future of TV.

ott apple TVTV is not just what is on cable or broadcast over the air anymore. TV has become mostly digital and is now obtained in many areas. The first companies to release these devices were Apple and Roku, with their Apple TV and Roku DVP, respectively. These devices were released almost 10 years ago and started the push for content outside of your cable subscription. These devices saw the early adoption of Netflix and Hulu, both streaming services that gained momentum around 2010. These services brought many new challenges, both in getting the content to your TV and getting content to these services.

As many companies released their own services to stream and/or purchase media, people needed new places to take advantage of this content and its high quality. This brought devices like Google’s Chromecast, Amazon’s Fire TV and even a new breed of HDTV’s, dubbed Smart TV’s to market. These devices all had a similar goal, bringing the content that had been collected over the years on streaming services back to the TV.

Each of these devices catered to its company’s proprietary services, but also supported the services that had the top spots in the market. Even devices like game consoles started to support streaming services, leading to less devices under your TV. They all would evolve with the adoption of new technologies, some supporting TV newest change, Ultra HD or 4K resolution.

As these platforms gained popularity with 3rd party streaming services, TV and cable networks wanted to get their content on these devices. TV Everywhere was the first step, a platform that brought TV episodes online after they aired, only requiring your account details to confirm you had access to the channel. TV Everywhere is now available on most devices that offer Netflix and Hulu compatibility, as it only requires a browser or app to watch content.

ott google chromeThe spread of TV consumption was investigated by GFK in an Over The Top TV study they conducted. In terms of TV Everywhere, it found that DirecTV customers were the largest users of the service, overtaking the founders, Time Warner, who led in consumption the last two years. The study also claims that the most popular device is a Roku, with Chromecast coming into a close second. Chromecast and Roku are continuing to release new devices and the Chromecast Ultra is Google’s newest edition, featuring 4K content support and improved WiFi functionality.

In the technology space, people are always looking for what’s best. Some have tried to answer that question, but only you can decide what is right for you. If you game on a PS4, it makes sense to also use it as streaming device, making the purchase of a Fire TV not necessary. All of these over-the-top TV devices do similar things, making the decision more about what device fits you and less about which is “best”.

Chris Dummer

How to Compete with Netflix: Where the Streaming Industry Stands

Dan Harmon, the creator of critically acclaimed shows such as Community and Rick and Morty released a short series, Harmonquest, exclusively on the streaming service SeeSo. Naturally, I signed up for a free trial and binge watched the show in five hours. Beyond Harmonquest, SeeSo offers a load of popular comedy shows as well as quite a few entertaining original shows. To top it all off, it’s only $4 a month! However, I decided to promptly end my subscription afterwards. But why wasn’t SeeSo able to retain this subscriber to their service? What is SeeSo and the rest of the streaming industry doing wrong?

netflixWhen it comes to streaming movies and television shows, consumers aren’t asking for an be-all, end-all product. Here are the three most important characteristics of a quality streaming service. First and foremost is abundance and customization. Big streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu all have a wide selection of quality shows, with the ability to favorite shows and customize their viewing experience.

Almost every single service offers customization by making your own account, and services like Crackle and Tubi TV have tons of content to pick from, however, if you subscribe to Crunchyroll or Acorn TV you’ll find yourself surrounded with content directed at niche audiences. This can both work in favor or against a particular service, but may still fall within a customizable experience.

The second factor, and arguably more important than the first is that a streaming service must provide high quality, smooth streaming. This is where many free services, and some paid ones fall short.

netflixOn Crackle, if you go on their site to watch a movie, you are stuck with the highest quality stream at 480p. For those wishing to immerse themselves in whatever they are viewing, images riddled with blurry artifacts and muddy sound takes away from the experience. On SeeSo, when I subscribed back in mid-July of 2016, playback would often stutter despite having high connection speeds. Further research shows they have yet to optimize their playback technology for browsers. But even ignoring stuttering playback, there is no option to adjust quality settings for SeeSo, and with no high definition options available, SeeSo commits an unforgivable sin for a paid service.

The final part of streaming’s Holy Trinity is that the desired service can’t cost too much. The streaming industry has been giving cable providers trouble with super competitive pricing at less than $15 a month per service to cable’s monthly $100+ and it’s no surprise why. But this isn’t about how expensive a service is compared to cable, it’s about how they compare against other streaming services. SeeSo, Acorn TV, Crunchyroll, Mubi.com, all cost less than $8 a month. In fact, you could pay for SeeSo and Crunchyroll for the price of Netflix’s standard subscription fee. This is where many smaller streaming services beat the big players, and Netflix continues to gradually raise their subscription prices.

A similar war was fought before the video streaming war even began, and that is in the music industry. Services like Spotify, Tidal, Apple Music, Pandora Radio, are constantly competing to gain and maintain subscribers to the services.

netflix netflix netflix

But how do they go about doing it? Unlike the realm of video, music streaming services can’t rely on simply specializing on a single genre like Acorn TV or Crunchyroll. Their war is shaped a little differently. Pricing will always come up when comparing services and Spotify has taken several steps to directly compete with Apple Music – lowering their family plan from $30 a month to only $15 for six users directly competing with Apple Music’s family plan at the same cost and number of users, and exclusives shine in the spotlight with Tidal pulling in users by getting first dibs on popular new releases.

While it may be nice to stick with comfortable picks like Netflix and Hulu, there are hundreds of other streaming services out there that have a lot to offer to consumers whether it’s unique, quality exclusives or just incredible bang for your buck. Ditch your comfort zone, end try leaving your Netflix or Hulu subscription behind to explore what else is out there for a month, while some experiences may not work out, there’s a chance you’ll find a service that is exactly what you’re looking for.

Kevin Thorn

Team Stream: The Beauty of Being Biased

People like to hear what they want to hear.  A simple concept and the foundation for team stream broadcasts. Last year’s NCAA men’s basketball Final Four and National Championship game featured a national broadcast, as well as two different team stream broadcasts, for the first time ever. How effective was this? Well, if you look at the ratings it may appear as a failure, but there is a lot more to it than that.

Bleacher Report’s team stream broadcasts stem from their Team Stream app. The app customizes your content to give you a better user experience based on your favorite sports teams. These broadcasts are created to cater to a  specific fan base. They display custom graphics, music, show packaging, team centric replays and custom halftimes with school features.

This year’s National Championship was not only unique because of the team streams, but also because it was the first time a national champion was crowned on cable. The championship game was broadcasted on three different channels. TBS showed the national broadcast, TNT  showed the UNC team stream, and truTV showed the Villanova team stream.

team stream

Why would such a big sporting event switch from broadcast to cable? Money. In 2010, a 14-year/$10.8 billion deal was made between CBS and Turner. They are scheduled to rotate years hosting the championship through 2024. However, there is the option for adjustments to be made at their yearly meeting if they feel a need for change. After the sharp decline in rating from 2015 to 2016, there is definitely a lot to discuss.

The 2016 championship game averaged 10 million fewer viewers than the year prior. In terms of household ratings, they were down 37% which made for the lowest-rated national championship game ever. There were three outlets to view the game, and it was a great game that came down to the buzzer. There are multiple reasons for the drop off and it sure is not the team streams.

team stream basketball

CBS is available in roughly 116.4 million homes, while TBS is only in about 93.8 million homes. This just goes to show how broadcast ratings crush cable. This was the second most-viewed basketball game ever on cable (averaging 17.8 million viewers and peaking at 22.3 million) but it was a bust in terms of a national championship audience.

Outside of the broadcasting conversion, there are several other elements to look at. Both Final Four games leading up to the Championship were noncompetitive. It is known that lack of momentum will affect ratings, and it did.

Also, the year prior prior had a lot more headlines and star power. It was Duke and Wisconsin in the 2015 Championship, both filled with NBA talent and very large followings. 2016 was North Carolina and Villanova, North Carolina is a big name but Villanova has a fairly small fan base. Last but not least, there was a late tipoff. The game tipped-off at 9:19 PM Eastern Time and didn’t finish until after midnight.

There was some negative feedback about the team stream broadcasts but most of that was simply confusion. People would flip to the first channel that had the game on not realizing it was a customized broadcast and find it “biased”. However, as more and more people become familiar with this process, the more popular it will become. I believe that this is a very unique idea and great moving forward in sports broadcasting. The switch from network to cable really didn’t allow us to get a true measure of how effective it is.

Right now it seems like CBS is taking same outlook as myself. The CBS Sports Chairman had this to say in response to if CBS will be using team streams next championship game “We have some issues to work through, like our affiliates. But I think Team Stream has been innovative. It’s a good way to increase exposure and promote the final weekend.”

Ryan Herring

“New” Advertiser-Friendly Policy: Is YouTube Taking Away Freedom of Speech?

It all started on Wednesday August 31, 2016. The world was in shock. People lashed out on twitter and other forms of social media saying that YouTube is now censoring YouTubers, violating and taking away freedom of speech. The hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty was trending worldwide by the following day as everyone proclaimed this was the end of YouTube.

youtubeSo what happened? On Wednesday August 31, 2016, YouTubers, started receiving emails about their videos being demonetized, meaning they would not earn any money from their videos. Famous YouTuber Philip DeFranco (with 4 million subscribers!) made a video about this topic that received almost over 6 million views and started the hashtag #YouTubeIsOverParty. By September 1st, both the video and the hashtag were trending worldwide.

Philip DeFranco’s YouTube video: “YouTube Is Shutting Down My Channel and I’m Not Sure What To Do”

DeFranco explained in his video that YouTube released a “new” advertiser friendly policy which explained what content would cause a video to get demonetized. DeFranco wasn’t the only YouTuber affected by this. He states in his videos that other content creators on YouTube received emails about some of their videos being demonetized. This also started a wave of YouTube videos with titles such as “I’m Quitting YouTube” or “YouTube is Dead”.

What content is deemed “advertiser un-friendly” is also an issue. Many YouTubers and their audience argued this is a form of censorship, as swearing and sexual humor can get videos demonetized. One of the most controversial topics however, deemed inappropriate for advertising is: “controversial or sensitive subjects and events, including subjects related to war, political conflicts, natural disasters and tragedies, even if graphic imagery is not shown.”

One million subscribers YouTuber Einshine argues in his video “YouTube is Making me Quit, Time to get a New Job?” that a previous video he made regarding his experience as a victim of the 3/11 Japan Earthquake in which he stated that all money he gained from ads in that video would be donated to charity to help Japan after the tragedy can be demonetized following the “new” guidelines.

Another argument made by YouTubers that this policy is going against freedom of speech, is that some YouTubers comment on or include news in their videos and therefore show violent or sensitive subjects even though it is not their own content and could still be penalized for it.

youtube policy
YouTube’s Advertiser-friendly content guidelines

YouTube has responded by stating that these guidelines are not new. In fact, YouTube has been demonetizing content deemed “not advertiser-friendly” since 2013. So what changed? According to YouTube, they’ve updated their notifications system. This means that before, YouTubers would get their videos demonetized but would not be aware of it, now they will receive an email about it.

YouTube also has an appeal system where YouTubers can make a request to get their videos re-monetized. While this works for some, others have had their appeal denied, keeping their videos demonetized.  DeFranco argues in his video “YouTube Responded, But It Gets Even More Confusing…” that this hurts smaller YouTubers that depend on the initial views to make their living. By having a video demonetized as soon as it’s posted, the YouTuber is losing the revenue opportunity while the initial views come pouring in as it takes time for the appeal to take affect.

I do believe YouTube is using a form of censorship, but I do not think YouTube is taking away freedom of speech. Many YouTubers have successfully been appealed their. Even if YouTubers aren’t getting money from their videos, their content is still accessible for everyone to see.

YouTube is a private company and they are well within their rights to implement these guidelines. After all, the content shown on their website represents and reflects them as well as the advertisers.

I believe that there is a communication problem between YouTube and its content creators. I think YouTube is finally taking a good step in updating their notification program but this could have been done much sooner. A solution to YouTubers losing money could be for YouTube to communicate quicker and more directly with YouTubers, letting them know before their content is demonetized allowing them to make an appeal while still making revenue off their views.

What do you think? Is YouTube violating freedom of speech or creating a form of censorship? Considering this policy isn’t new, what has changed now that content creators on YouTube are aware of this policy? Considering ad-blockers, do you think this issue is even relevant?

Clara Tosi

NAB Show 2016 Recap

Ten students from the University of Northern Iowa had the opportunity to participate in the 3rd Annual Expedition to the NAB Show in Las Vegas this spring. They studied everything from post production editing and media distribution to the latest trends in virtual reality. Check out their videos on the UNI Digital Media Leadership YouTube channel and like our Facebook Page for more post-show updates!

NAB Show 2016 Overview

Here is an overview of the NAB Show 2016. This will give you look and the size and scope of the convention and a taste of the fun these students had.

 

Post Production Overview

Check out the latest in post production software and equipment. These students got a firsthand look at the latest products from companies like Black Magic, Adobe, and GoPro.

 

Virtual Reality

Virtual Reality was a hot topic this year at the NAB Show. Media producers are experimenting with new ways of storytelling and incorporating VR into new media work flows.

Media Distribution

The world of media distribution is constantly changing and the sources of revenue for content has shifted a lot in the last few years. See how come companies are staying ahead of the curve.

 

Special thanks to the IBA for making this trip possible! We’re looking forward to next year’s trip and planning to bring you more great content straight from the NAB Show floor.

NAB Show 2016 UNI Digital Media Leadership

The New Social Healthy World

The fit world is merging with our world step by step. Nowadays, this trend of “Being fit or Staying healthy” has become really popular in our society especially through social media. The old band sport monitors are dead and have been replaced by the smartphones, smartwatches, smart bracelets and phone apps that are connected to these devices in order for them to keep track of our activity.

fitness tech

According to blog.econocom.com, “Mobile devices with fitness apps that monitor our physiological data which can then be shared on the social networks aren’t just fun gadgets but can also promote widespread adoption of connected health.” Which means that these new innovations allow our society to emerge into this trend more in depth and keep motivated in order to reach their personal goals.

However, the real question is what is in these media monitor trackers that makes them a new trend within social media? Well the answer is really simple, they are attracting a lot of consumers because their fashionable style allows people to wear them for any occasion. For example, you can wear it while exercising as well as important events or parties. Another appealing aspect of these devices is that they allow their owners to keep track and motivated by using their personal phone devices. You can be out with your friends and you can still keep track of your personal physical activities because they are connected to your smartphone.

The reason why it is possible can be credited to the creation of many apps that are connected or related to these trends. Experts have created these apps to develop a new digital
healthy world targeting individuals between 18 and 35 years old, which will keep a pattern of staying healthy or being fit.

And this also helps consumers save a lot of money from paying personal trainers, nutritionist, and many other expenses that will help your body to stay in shape because most of them are free. According to digitaltrends.com, “Why fork over your hard earned cash on some newfangled wearable exercise gizmo when you’ve already got a smartphone stowed in your pocket?” which is completely true. If you can get apps that focus on Activity tracker, Workout Guides, Nutrition & Sleep, Exercise Gamification Apps that will benefit you in the long run and keeps you motivated by sharing with your friends through social media. As the New Nike+Running App shows how this new social media world emerges.

According to Aditi Pai in his article for mobi health news, “Global sports and fitness app installations are expected to grow to 248 million in 2017 from 156 million in 2012,” which is a sixty percent rise. Studies have revealed that every person is getting motivated and really into this new society or trend and they are willing to buy fitness sensors that connect to their phones and their social media. So, they could keep motivating themselves and keep track daily of their physical activities and see if they are reaching their goals.

Fitness Tech

“So, the real question is are you ready for this new change into the social world?” Remember it’s not about being fit and having a perfect body, it is about being healthy for your own benefits.

Astrid Araya

Piracy: Stealing the Industry’s Booty

It’s a Thursday evening, you’re tired and just looking to have a “chill” evening. Maybe you’ll invite that girl or guy you’ve been chatting with on social media over, but then what will you do? You could pay five dollars at Marcus Theatres, but realistically that is just too expensive of a price to pay for a movie, especially on a college budget. So you do the next best thing (or so you think…) and hop on Kickasstorrents or The Pirate Bay to stream that new film you’ve been wanting to see. You hope to impress your date by entertaining them without spending a dime or leaving the house, but let’s take a look at what’s really being forfeited here.

The Pirate BayWhen you look at the bigger picture, the one that resides outside of your janky two-bedroom apartment, you would see the industry is losing a lot by people streaming pirated films. According to forbes.com, some independent film distributors, such as Wolfe Video, have seen their profits cut completely in half by piracy. This could result in projects being scrapped altogether for fear they won’t make the big bucks. The other thing you should consider is when you neglect to pay for your content, is that someone’s salary somewhere could potentially be affected. Do you want to explain to little Jimmy that his parents won’t be able to feed him because you “can’t afford” five-dollar movie night?

But the industry is fighting back. Since most of the time it’s streaming and convenience that you want, they created popular pay for sites that people are more willing to buy into to get their content. These services include such as Netflix, Hulu, HBOGO, Spotify, and Itunes. I bet you never suspected you were fighting a battle against the pirates while partaking in “Netflix and Chill.” Not only can any of these be downloaded as an app to your favorite technological device, but they are also a pay monthly service giving you a ton of great content for one low price that even you can afford (at least we should hope so.)

Of course, there are still a few loopholes to this method of fighting piracy, one being password sharing.

Sharing your password with someone outside of your family or household is very common and in a report by Variety is apparently taking away $500 million from the industry. However, it doesn’t seem to have any negative effect on them as of now, but don’t be surprised if these guys start cracking down in the near future. You might need stop using your grandma’s lover’s son’s college roommate’s password, and get your own one of these days.

Sam Fickett