Quickflix Bemoans Netflix ‘Free Ride’

Netflix‘s domination around the world, thanks to third-party domain shields such as Hola, stretches quite well beyond their official markets, one of the most notable of which being in Australia, where local streaming platforms have bemoaned the strong presence of Netflix in a local entertainment market that they don’t even contribute to, bemoaning the ‘free ride’ that is being taken by the American company.

quickflixStephen Langsford, the CEO of one of Australia’s leading native streamers by the name of Quickflix, claims that Netflix’s purposeful ignorance of VPN (virtual private network) use by Australians is a detriment to local services due to stealing potential customers and the avoidance of local content licensing fees.

Netflix are noted as blocking non-Netflix markets (or other Netflix markets) from reaching the leading American version of the service, but do not provide any barriers when the natural solution of a proxy server comes into play, and have taken many subscriptions from Australian bank details, with American dollars paid and American content watched in spite of their physical location.

An open letter from Langsford to Netflix claims that they are: “…tacitly encouraging Australian consumers to inadvertently breach the copyright of content owners. We challenge Netflix to play by the rules. Stop turning a blind eye to VPN services acting as a gateway to your service. Be honest and face-up to the issue of unauthorised access to your US service.”

Langsford’s letter, coming in response to statistics released this year (which include payment start-up company Pocketbook estimating that 27% of Australians are using Netflix despite it not having a market presence, and Business Spectator claiming that Australia is second only to Canada in terms of accessing American Netflix services through VPNs).

He added of the lack of fairness involved and how Netflix’s unofficial presence weakens the Australian market as a whole: “Audiences will suffer in the long-run with few choices, less compelling offerings and higher prices.”

Whether viewer actions can be considered as Netflix breaching ‘content licencing laws’ when the internet can do far worse when it comes to unofficial viewing is a point of debate in Australia, but considering Netflix are receiving free money for doing absolutely nothing in an important market it can be assumed that they won’t ever be trying too hard to stop the proxies. And in the event that they do launch ‘legally’ in Australia, they’ll still have subscribers taking the American option, just with added tax, so is the question more of what the likes of Quickflix can do to become more competitive against the currently ‘non-existent’ force?

Avatar Prepare For 3D4K Sequel With High Frame Rate

Since originally premiering in 2009, the world has been waiting on a sequel to Avatar probably more for the filming innovations that could come with it than the story itself, and those fans will be pleased to hear that the franchise could be planning to make a slightly newer emerging technology more mainstream come Avatar 2.

avatar_eyeIt is reported by filmmaker/inventor Douglas Trumbull that his new system of ‘4K 3D at 120 frames per second’ is in discussion stages with Avatar producers, (more specifically, producer Jon Landau, according to The Hollywood Reporter).

It is believed that Avatar‘s creator James Cameron was a fan of Trumbull’s prototype ‘large-format high-frame rate projection system’ (known as ‘Showscan’), and Trumball has taken a more refined version into action with short film UFOTOG, showcasing the abilities of the process now known as MAGI.

Trumball stated of the current situation, which includes a request to demonstrate UFOTOG to Avatar staff: “I know that Cameron admired Showscan and that he is a huge advocate of high frame rates (HFRs). The use of HFRs for Avatar would be very appropriate and very successful. I don’t know if Cameron is interested [in using MAGI for the Avatar sequels]. He’s in seclusion writing the screenplay for Avatar. I am talking to Jon Landau, and we plan to have a screening [of UFOTOG] soon.”

Speaking at the IBC Convention in Amsterdam (Netherlands), he added of MAGI that it is also being pitched to other well-known directors, and stated of its benefits: “It delivers extreme fluidity of motion and amazing clarity with no strobing, no double flickering and a viewing experience that far exceeds conventional movie quality.”

The upcoming remainder of the Avatar quadrilogy, meanwhile, is to be filmed starting 2015 with returning stars Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana, with airdates in the Christmas periods of 2016, 2017, and 2018 for the blockbuster parts 2, 3, and 4. It is a guarantee that they will be in 3D given the first film, but will the format be adding ‘4K’ and ‘120fps’ to its description by that point as well?

ESPN Announce 7 New 30 for 30s

Having been highly critically-acclaimed since launching in 2009 to a level that it has enabled it to carry on beyond the anniversary year in the same branding, the ESPN Film series 30 for 30 have announced 7 more sports documentaries to arrive by the end of the year.

espn_30_for_30For fans of the series, in which professional film-makers create full-length documentaries on a sports topic close to them, there will be a chance to enjoy no less than 6 on consecutive Tuesday nights starting in October.

Beginning on 7 October (but led in a week beforehand on 30 September with It’s Time, of ESPN Films’ spin-off series SEC Storied), the batch will begin with Playing for the Mob (focusing on a game fixing scandal involving the 1970’s Boston college basketball team, followed by a new 30 for 30 short The Great Trade Robbery on american football player Herschel Walker and the Dallas Cowboys).

This will be followed in successive weeks by The Day The Series Stopped (where an earthquake delayed the 1989 World Series in San Francisco), When the Garden was Eden (the 1970’s New York Knicks), Brian and the Boz (the story of american football player Brian Bosworth), Brothers in Exile (Cuban baseball players Livan and Orlando Hernandez moving to the major league in the 1990’s), and Rand University (former NFL star Randy Moss retracing his roots).

Finally, there will be a month delay before the 7th and final part of the batch, (and 26th of the 30-part second season) with the series’ first-ever sequel episode, The U Part 2, focusing on the Miami Hurricanes college american football team rebuilding after 1990s sanctions, only to face fresh controversies amongst their success, set to air just over 5 years after the original, on 13 December following coverage of the Heisman Trophy presentation. Airtimes for all upcoming documentaries will vary from 8-10pm ET across the run. The full descriptions of the films being made can be seen here.

ESPN‘s ‘vice president & executive producer’ of ESPN Films and Original Programming, Connor Schell, said of the new films: “Even though we have been at this for five years now, there is no shortage of incredible moments from the world of sports, so that enables us to continue making 30 for 30 films we’re proud of. The new slate takes a look at events and people that may be familiar to viewers, but our intent is to provide a totally different perspective through the visions of our various filmmakers.”

While the many spin-off series in the ESPN Films family makes it difficult to pin an exact figure on the number of documentaries that have been made since ESPN’s 30th anniversary in 2009 (although it is certainly over the original 30 planned, with 56 by the end of the year for the full-length 30 for 30 banner, and over 100 for all documentaries), but it is a series that can keep going a long time considering the vast number of stories around in American and global sport, even minor moments could be stretched out… maybe…

ESPN could even just take on the challenge of fictional stories if they want to, it’s all fine as long as they keep up the quality:

Dish Secures Scripps Content for Upcoming Internet TV service

Dish Network has signed a multi-year deal with Scripps Networks Interactive for the streaming rights to live and on-demand content from channels such as DIY Network, the Food Network, HGTV, and the Travel Channel.

Dish-Network-Internet-TVThe Dish over-the-top TV service which is due to launch later this year will offer around 20-30 channels for $30 per month. The service will be aimed at cord cutters who are becoming increasingly frustrated at high pay-TV bills for cable and satellite TV.

The content will add nicely to the already signed deals that Dish Network has secured. They signed a deal back in March with Disney owned ABC and ESPN for live and on-demand streaming, and they secured the rights to A+E Networks channels such as Lifetime, History, Crime & Investigation and Military History.

The news was revealed in a Dish press release where DISH president and CEO, Joseph P. Clayton said, “DISH is delighted to add Scripps Networks’ award-winning lifestyle content to our growing library of sports, family, educational and entertainment options that will create a redefined video experience for a new type of consumer. This wide-ranging agreement gives DISH customers dynamic access to Scripps Networks programming today and tomorrow.”

Speaking for Scripps, chairman, president and CEO, Kenneth W. Lowe said, “This agreement demonstrates the consistent strength and popularity of our portfolio of brands, and enables even more people to enjoy DIY Network and Cooking Channel in addition to our existing offering on DISH.”

He continued, “We are committed to making our lifestyle content available to consumers wherever and whenever they want it. This first-of-its-kind OTT deal for Scripps Networks Interactive enables us to reach even more people through DISH’s innovative services.”

The announcement follows on from the news that Sony has decided to enter the online streaming market with it’s own cloud based TV service, and has nabbed the rights to 20 Viacom channels including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon.

Washing Machines Live Longer When LG Aren’t Around

With the rivalry between technology companies sometimes pushing far into the ‘fierce’ territory, a trade show such as the recent IFA 2014 in Berlin (Germany) can be a key battle ground for competing with other market leaders and checking out their products in the flesh with little stigma or repercussions… unless physical damage occurs.

samsung_nextgen_washing_machineSouth Korean company Samsung have come out with accusations that native rivals LG have done this to them whilst in Germany, but not even on the demonstration models at the show, rather an act of ‘vandalising’ store models of a product elsewhere… and not even the connected mobile or TV devices the pair are more famous for.

Instead it is washing machines that are the centre of attention in this dispute (though as the picture demonstrates, South Korea has slightly higher standards of washing machine development than most of the world), as Samsung accuse a number of LG employees, in a delegation which included a ‘senior executive’, as intentionally damaging some of Samsung’s goods at a German appliance store prior to the IFA trade show.

LG has quickly moved to accept responsibility for the broken machines, with claims that it was not a deliberate but an accidental damage from when the delegation examined the in-store models on ‘market research’ purposes, stealth-insultingly explaining that ‘weak hinges’ were the cause of the items being broken.

They also announced their intention to cover the cost of four washing machines at the store in question but only admitted to causing damage on two, though Samsung have regardless of the response called German and South Korean police forces into the matter.

An official Samsung statement noted: “It is very unfortunate that Samsung had to request that a high-ranking executive be investigated by the nation’s legal authorities, but this was inevitable, as we concluded that we had to get to the bottom of this incident.”

LG responded to the issue with a statement of their own that singled out head of home appliances Jo Seong-jin as their leader in the guilty party, but continued to deny any deliberate damage to the machines, noting: “If our company had an intention to destroy products of a certain company to tarnish the image of the product, it would be common sense to not have our executives directly carry out such acts. We hope that this is not an attempt to damage our reputation.”

The question in this case is not on the end outcome, but whether or not LG deliberately caused damage in this unusual situation, and also whether hitting rivals through their products could become a way to dangerously live out technology feuds and increase mistrust when the industry turns up in the same place. Watch this space in the future, everyone knows that Apple will have their eyes on any rounded rectangular refrigerators that Samsung are selling…

iPhone 6 Pre-Orders Reach Record Numbers

Despite most people probably seeing that the item in question is only a few advancements on a product that was released at the same time last year (continuing a cycle that now generally passes each September), that has not stopped masses of Apple fans from putting their names (and soon to be money) down for pre-orders of the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, both released later this week.

apple-logo-fontIt was claimed by Apple that the take-up so far, even in the space of 24 hours since launching pre-orders, managed to surpass any other iPhone release process, with a total of over 4 million units committed to on day 1.

CEO Tim Cook notes of the record that has been set (and continuing to drag their internal bar higher until release day): “iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus are better in every way, and we are thrilled customers love them as much as we do. Pre-orders for iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus set a new record for Apple, and we can’t wait to get our best iPhones yet into the hands of customers starting this Friday.”

However, additional comments this week from the company as a whole suggested that some customers may be left disappointed come Friday 19 September, stating: “Demand for the new iPhones exceeds the initial pre-order supply and while a significant amount will be delivered to customers beginning on Friday and throughout September, many iPhone pre-orders are scheduled to be delivered in October. Additional supply of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus will be available to walk-in customers on Friday, September 19 at 8am local time at Apple retail stores.”

Given the sales figures so far, it is extremely likely to see the regular crowds of ‘devoted’ buyers ready to purchase lining up from Thursday afternoon onwards, so the question now is how far will the Apple sales records manage to end up stretching this month?