Netflix Ready For HBO Online Challenge

Though the match-up could perhaps be likened to a dominant sports team going up against an upstart challenger that has a decent team spearheaded by one superstar player, the announcement of HBO that they will soon offer an exclusively online service has prompted Netflix‘s response of how it will make both of them to push each other to the limits, and that both will become stronger for it.

netflix_blackHBO had announced last week that by the year 2015, they will be offering a ‘digital version’ of their subscription TV service in 2015, the first for a brand that currently requires their own payments on top of a regular cable/satellite subscription (a system in place since foundation in 1972), including access to their HBO Go catch-up platform, but with the alternative business plan will allow consumers to pay a similar amount for only the online streaming parts.

Responding to the news with a letter to their shareholders, Netflix claimed that they have immediately bumped HBO up to the public status of being considered their “primary long-term competitor”, but that they had their eye on the network in that regard even before the announcement.

They wrote to shareholders: “The competition will drive us both to be better. It was inevitable and sensible that they would eventually offer their service as a standalone application. Many people will subscribe to both Netflix and HBO since we have different shows, so we think it is likely we both prosper as consumers move to internet TV.”

While they have to contend with 25% share price drops due to below-expectation performances during the last quarter without HBO competing, will the news that the long-running brand soon will be be enough to turn off some holders, or will the competition indeed drive both brands to another level in the online streaming market?

Leonardo DiCaprio And Netflix Team Up To Save Gorillas

Netflix are collaborating with Hollywood superstar Leonardo DiCaprio in a bid to help tell the world about endangered mountain gorillas in the eastern Congo.

VirungaThe streaming company will release a documentary made by Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way Production company which will be called Virunga. Directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, the documentary will show a small team of park rangers battling to protect endangered mountain gorillas in Africa.

DiCaprio, who will be executive producer for the film said, “Films like ‘Virunga’ are powerful stories that are a window into the incredible cultural and natural diversity of our world, the forces that are threatening to destroy it, and the people who are fighting to protect it. Partnering with Netflix on this film is an exciting opportunity to inform and inspire individuals to engage on this topic.”

For Netflix, Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos said,”Leo intuitively understands that there is nothing like the power of film to reach people’s hearts and minds. With ‘Virunga,’ we’ll work with Leo to introduce viewers around the world to an incredible, gripping story that will have audiences guessing right up until the final act.”

It is reported by The World Wildlife Fund that less than 800 mountain gorillas are left in the wild, with around half of them living in the Virunga Mountains. The film will follow the park rangers as they, “Protect (Virunga National Park) from armed militia, poachers, and the dark forces struggling to control Congo’s rich natural resources.”

The film will be released on November 7  both on Netflix around the World and in New York and Los Angeles theaters simultaneously.

ABC Over The Moone Boy With New Pilot

The latest to join a long line of proud and not-so-proud attempts of American networks to adapt a British TV show to cross-Atlantic audiences has occurred, and is in fact Irish.

moone_boy_promoChris O’Dowd’s Moone Boy concept is one that has earned two seasons broadcast so far on satellite broadcaster Sky1, and a third currently in production, and now has attracted the attention of American network ABC.

The broadcaster, according to The Hollywood Reporter, have made a ‘put-pilot commitment’ on the Emmy Award-winning live-action comedy (with animated segments), which is inspired by its creator’s life growing up in the small rural town of Boyle (Ireland) in the 80s and 90s. On-screen, the semi-biographical focus is on 12-year-old boy “Martin Moone” (David Rawle) who has an imaginary friend called “Seán Murphy” (O’Dowd), who is able to offer him a unique perspective and support in his life as an outcast.

For the American adaptation, O’Dowd (The IT Crowd) is to script write and executive produce the single-camera pilot, but likely to not have an on-screen presence, leading to questions as to just how ‘Irish’ or ’80s’ the show will be if taken on.

Going from a Sky1 Little Crackers Christmas short in 2010 to full series in 2012, and now an American major network pilot in the space of less than 4 years, will Moone Boy be able to take its next step up, or will the imagination of O’Dowd have a ceiling? For a taster of whether or not you might like the format, the original show broadcasts on PBS in America and on-demand on Hulu, and preview clips on YouTube such as the one below:

YouTube Reach $1b In Copyright Payouts

Since the idea of a free video sharing site is one that attracts plenty of people looking to make some quick advertising money by copying established content (whether it is an outright theft of the footage or something that most would consider a little more fair game and overall beneficial), there are plenty of people that quickly face punishment from the site over doing so, but since the site is the one hosting this content and the one who has the money, they end up covering the cost of fines (unless you are marketing genius Kim Dotcom), or if you are smart about it, giving off a share of the proceeds.

Youtube-music-streamingAnd in total, YouTube has reportedly broken the $1b mark in payments made under their ‘Content ID’ initiative, a feature established in 2007 which assists content rights holders in matching their clips to YouTube videos, with any infractions found on YouTube leaving the holders with a decision – have the video taken down, or keep track of it whilst making some of the advertising money (and publicity) from it.

With over 5,000 companies tracking both video and audio (including licenced music) from across YouTube’s archives, it is believed that many media groups are starting to lean towards the ‘keep’ option.

Google’s ‘legal director for copyright’ Fred von Lohmann said of the trends: “The vast majority choose to monetise and track rather than block the videos. A large part of it is because of Content ID.”

In a far and opposite cry from an early-days copyright lawsuit against Viacom for $1b (which was settled with no cash earlier this year), it appears as though more big names such as networks and record labels are becoming okay with the idea of ‘unauthorised’ use of their property… provided they receive a slice of the benefits.

One company that takes advantage of the feature on most occasions is European production company FremantleMedia, whose ‘senior vice-president of digital’ Olivier Delfosse said of their reasoning: “We have made it a core part of our digital business. [We had (a clip of Korea's Got Talent that earned more views through a third-party than official), an example of] a fan teaching us what fans want. We monetise almost all of our fan-uploaded content… it’s become a significant revenue stream for us.”

While it is unclear as to how much of the advertising money the chancers get from their now ‘acceptable’ uploads, the content providers at least appear to be warming a little to YouTube’s 7-year-old idea, but will it develop to a harmonious mutual benefit for all involved, or will one party attempt to squeeze more out of the current arrangements?

Christian Bale Set For Lead Role In Different Jobs Movie

The life of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs is certainly getting a lot of mileage as a character in the movie industry, in which he will make an immediate transition from Walden Schmidt to Batman.

christian_baleOr rather, completely separate from the Ashton Kutcher-starring independent biopic film jOBS of 2013, the deceased face of Apple will now be portrayed by Christian Bale, according to reports linking him to a new biopic being produced by London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony creative director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours).

The film, to be written by Aaron Sorkin (The Social Network, Moneyball, The Newsroom), is to chronicle Jobs in recreations of the run-up to three key milestones of Apple’s history.

If signed to the project, Bale (presumably the next on the producer’s hit list after Leonardo DiCaprio dropped out earlier this month as part of an acting hiatus) will reportedly begin shooting as Jobs in spring 2015, according to Variety.

The film itself is currently untitled and without a release date confirmed, but it is known that it will be adapted from the 2011 biography of Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson, released shortly after the CEO’s death in 2011.

Whether the makers of jOBS sue for potential overlapping ideas remains to be seen, though, as after all, life stories are apparently copyrighted material if they are printed in the biographical form

For Bale, meanwhile, the negotiations will see him have a chance to add to his personal ‘upcoming films’ list that features Exodus: Gods and Kings and Knight of Cups, but also being able to relive a lot of his most familiar role as an orphan with immense wealth.

Mobile Device Viewing Continues To Grow In New ComScore Statistics

The latest comScore online video statistics have been published, with the inclusion of the not-too-surprising discovery that more and more people are using mobile devices as a means to access their favourite content.

ComScoreThe measurement specialists this week released the latest in their line of research papers, entitled “The U.S. Total Video Report”, (viewable in full with registration) reviewing the continually altering market of TV and video content and how viewing habits are shifting with technological developments.

In America, it is noted that the patterns of viewing are fast developing (based on the feedback of 1,159 people issued with an online questionnaire, which in its nature may lend a little bias to streaming), and that young audiences are naturally  at the forefront of some of these changes.

The demographic noted as ‘adults aged between 18-34′, are noted as choosing to watch original TV programmes via digital platforms around one-third of the time, with comScore citing that there is a clear correlation between a higher age of viewer and increased liklihood of watch a show on TV as tradition intends.

Delving further into the issue, it was found that 1 of 6 in the young adult group had in the month preceding the survey not seen an original show by way of television set/pay-TV services, with set-top boxes and consoles joining mobile devices (such as smartphones and tablet computers) and desktop as alternative ways to watch as providers continue to serve plenty of options for audiences.

Also asking the key question of ‘why’, comScore found that although viewers of all ages have raise their streaming game, older viewers are more likely to use the online technology for functional reasons, such as catch-up when a show was missed on regular TV schedules, whilst younger adults are known to actively seek out the content for streaming, with lack of commercials and saving money part of the reasoning as well as functionality.

Younger viewers were also noted to have been more likely to watch shows on a time-shifted basis, with 46% of the 18-34s watching programming at a later time than original airing, and compared with 35% of 35-54s.

This data helped pave the way towards some other key streaming-related findings, with young adults being 77% likelier to have a ‘cord-never’ household, more likely to have a Netflix subscription (50% compared to 32% from the survey as a whole (though all groups are likelier to have Netflix in a household with children, increasing with number)), of which around 44% are watching through a dongle such as Chromecast (followed by computers, connected TV products, and mobile devices), and are much more likely to timeshift and watch content ‘when they feel like it’ if they have a subscription to a streaming platform.

Citing what a lot of people may already know, the comScore findings at least put some round numbers on the developments, and as with previous reports of this nature, the main question will be how far can [insert trend here] go before it reaches its peak?