There have been some moves recently by big names in online video. I've compiled them here as just a quick list to help keep you all in the loop. The big news involves Disney, Hulu, NBC Universal and NetFlix. I know you don't think it has anything to do with you, but read on, you might be surprised. Plus, it's all very interesting in a soap opera sort of way.
Disney recently fired up a new website that allows you to nab their movies via digital streams. This is a big step for the Mouse considering that just a scant few years ago they offered only limited releases of some of their classics and then put them back in the vault for another 10 years or so.
Their new venture, Disney Movies Online, allows you to purchase and watch their films online. There's an intro video on the site I found really humorous because, whether intentional or not, they say "…all with the click of a mouse…" which made me chuckle. Get it? Mouse?!
It looks like part of the deal is that you will get Magic Codes when you purchase DVDs and you can input them into the system unlocking access to those films via the online streaming service. That's pretty clever, they can still generate some physical sales and not cut those people out or make them pay twice to get the online versions. Well done Mickey and Crew! Oh, damn, it's not available in my geographic location. Now isn't that strange? Don't they own all the rights to their stuff?
Toy Story 3, one of the featured films, is $14.99. You get unlimited access on any PC or Mac with a broadband Internet Connection. HOw's that for forward-thinking on their part?
"We believe if we harness the power of these separate initiatives … we'll immediately seize the opportunity, extend a lot more benefits to Disney customers and sort of catapult this thing into the future very rapidly," said Bob Chapek, distribution president for Walt Disney Studios. (via the LA Times)
From what they say, it will also be compatible with Ultraviolet which is being built by Sony Corp., Warner Bros., NBC Universal and News Corp, Microsoft, Intel and Best Buy Co. It is an online service that will allow consumers to buy, store and access movies across multiple devices.
Hulu is probably using a shorter version of that name for NBC Universal after the broadcast company agreed to give NetFlix day-after-airing access to Saturday Night Live. Hulu is certainly not hula dancing because of it I'm sure.
MediaWeek reports that Hulu execs are 'fuming' over the recent NBCU decision. Didn't I just mention that I thought there were going to be some problems in that area recently?
What's the big deal? Well, most content offered to NetFlix is from previous seasons, while this new deal would allow you to get the Saturday Night Live episode on Sunday, well that's the day after right? This could now set a precedent and have broadcasters flocking to the already established, though historically movie-leaning, NetFlix and leave Hulu out in the cold. So much for that big planned IPO hey Hulu? You should have let the rest of the world watch your content!
Apparently, it's all about the Benjamins baby, as "Netflix is writing bigger checks than anyone else in the market," said Justin Patterson, senior analyst, Morgan Keegan & Co. (via MediaWeek)
Is this the beginning of the end for Hulu, and will someone one day soon be dancing on their grave? Only time will tell.
In other news, Hulu Plus seems to be gaining ground with Sony who not only offers it via their Playstation Network (for the Playstation 3 game console) but is now set to load it up on their new Dash Personal Internet Viewer.
Rather than being a tablet device, the Sony Dash is kind of a an Internet- and video-capable version of an old counter-top radio: it features a 7-inch color screen, Wi-Fi networking, and built-in stereo speakers, and is designed to bring the Internet to rooms like kitchens, offices, bedrooms, or other places where a full-fledged computer is overkill. It's also cheaper: the Sony Dash retails for $199.
Why am I telling you all of this? Well, in case you're actually advertising on any of these sites, you might like to know what they're up to. If you're a competitor you might like to know what your up against and if you're a viewer you might like to be kept up to speed with your online video collection. So that's what's up.