Streaming in Seattle: Over 1/3rd of Seattle Market Household Have Neither Cable or Satellite

Just north of us, Seattle is leaving cable TV and satellite in big numbers. In fact, a study quoted by The Seattle Times finds over 1/3rd have cut the cord. My guess is when the Seahawks play is among the only times that people watch live TV.

TV-streaming services have taken a big bite out of network television viewership, and a sizable number of households rely solely on streaming. According to Nielsen, more than one out of three households (37%) in the Seattle market have neither cable nor satellite television.

Netflix and other streaming services boomed in Seattle amid COVID-19 lockdowns | The Seattle Times

Should Netflix Have More Classic Movies?

Older movies on streaming services — all of the major services, not just Netflix — are very poorly represented in their archives. It’s like the licensing started in the late 70s and newer, increasing in volume after 2000.

As streaming subscription prices increase, subscribers will rightly analyze if the service they’re paying for has content they want to watch.

The back catalog of movies is thin if you enjoy the classics — someone should tell Netflix that there’s an entire century of movies that were made prior to the 2000s — and the number of films that are there seem to be shrinking at the expense of the Netflix originals the streaming service wants to put front and center.

Why I’m canceling Netflix in 2021 | Tom’s Guide

Originals and exclusives are where the majority of streaming channels are focusing, especially Netflix (see: Does Netflix Release Too Many Originals? Maybe Ask New CMO Bozoma Saint John). They want to build their own historical library of titles you can only stream at their channel.

Is this a wise strategy for subscriber longevity and reducing retention? Yes. At the same time, their back catalog of movies is shrinking and as their prices increase, subscribers will need to ask the question the Tom’s Guide writer and his family asked: do they have enough of what we want to watch to stay subscribed?

Netflix had a very good year for originals in 2020. We watched more Netflix than any other streaming channel. It also polled highly among subscribers in at least one industry poll (see: Looper Poll Finds 73% Favor Netflix as #1 Streaming Service, Amazon #2, Others #3, Hulu #4)

Was it enough to keep you subscribed? Was for us. Would we like to see them add more classic movies to their back catalog? Yes. Will they? Probably not. Will having less of these movies make us more likely to unsubscribe? Probably not. What about you?

MGM Getting More Serious About Selling To … Someone

Early last month we asked: Should Apple Buy MGM and gain 4,000+ movies including Bond? You can follow the link and read/re-read that piece, but to summarize: we actually think Amazon is a more likely suitor than Apple simply because Apple doesn’t seem to want to be a studio. They want to be what they are: a tech company that owns things.

Now, they could buy MGM and keep it functioning separate from Apple, but that’s not really the Apple way either. Not historically anyway.

Meanwhile, MGM is ratcheting up it’s efforts to sell. Leaving us to think about where the current streaming suitors fit into this possible MGM sale puzzle.

MGM has recruited Morgan Stanley and LionTree LLC to advise on the process of a formal sale, according to the Wall Street Journal. LionTree has worked with MGM in the past. Based on privately traded shares, the company has a market value of $5.5 billion, including debt.

MGM Explores Selling Studio – Variety

Bond is the big name IP play here. Who wants to own Bond? Netflix is the obvious answer, but they don’t have the cash and not sure they want to pull an AMC and leverage themselves deep into debt for 4,000 or so movies including James Bond and some TV shows. Even if some of those movies and TV shows are very rewatchable.

So, here we come back to the other available suitors. Not WarnerMedia, they just sold Crunchyroll to Sony. They are clearly in the selling mode themselves, save for promoting HBO Max as their entertainment future.

Amazon. I just keep coming back to them. $6-8 billion is a fraction of what Bezos made himself in one month in 2020. They are sitting on boatloads of cash and seem the most poised to outright buy a studio.

Apple might jump into the game if Amazon shows interest. Sometimes when you want to compete, you wait to see who is competing. Something tells me if Amazon wanted to buy MGM that Apple instantly would be more interested. We’ve seen bidding wars for movies over the last year and it seems like Amazon and Apple almost enjoy the bidding process against each other.

(purely perceived by articles on the two companies, no insider knowledge)

Who is left? NBC Universal with Peacock? Don’t think so. Disney? Maybe. James Bond isn’t exactly family friendly, but they could always buy it and make it another (mostly) adult content center for Star and Hulu (in the United States).

With MGM ramping up their selling interest, allegedly, is there any chance a sale is done before No Time To Die comes out in April? Seems like long shot, but the way the last year has gone almost anything seems possible. Any thoughts?

v50 Adds 4K HDR Support on HBO Max for Wonder Woman 1984

Watch Wonder Woman 1984 in 4K with HBO Max v50 update

One of several complaints about HBO Max has been its lack of support for 4K and advanced audio formats like Dolby Atmos. Good news, an update version 50 has been released for Chromecast with Google TV and Android that adds 4K support.

Firstly, HBO Max launched without any 4K content at all, with the upcoming release of Wonder Woman 1984 being the service’s first title supporting 4K and HDR on Android TV and other devices. HBO has also said that more releases will add 4K HDR support going forward, too, including the Warner Bros. 2021 movie slate, which is coming to HBO Max at the same time as theatrical releases.

HBO Max adds 4K HDR support on Android TV, Chromecast – 9to5Google

It was puzzling how DC Universe had 4K support for a long time, but when most of their original content moved to HBO Max it wasn’t in 4K. This caused more irritation from subscribers who want their 4K content to remain, well, 4K.

I just checked on our Chromecast with Google TV and yes, v50 is available for update. Get it before you watch Wonder Woman 1984 on Friday.

Amidst 5,000+ pages of COVID Stimulus bill, a 10 year prison sentence for streaming piracy

The 1:24:13 mark in Airplane II: The Sequel features a fitting sign to this post

When people talk about long novels, War and Peace often comes up. War and Peace is 1,225 pages long.

Ha, that’s nothing compared to what follows. If’s not even 1/4 the size.

One of the biggest problems with the United States government is that nothing is ever simple like it should be. The second COVID Stimulus package can’t be simply about getting checks out to people in need, it must be — seriously — 5,000+ pages long and include completely unrelated legislation just to garner votes.

Everything in a bill is about pork. More pork = more votes. They can find all the ways to insult the American people by giving them less than they did in the last stimulus bill ($600 instead of $1,200) but they can find some way to give more to others, including legislation for streaming piracy.

For the record, we don’t care about the money for us personally. We are doing fine without any money from other American taxpayers. That is, after all, where any money from the government ultimately comes from.

Get Marty McFly’s Delorean, because this is robbery from the future to pay the present. When the trillions of debt blow up the value of the U.S dollar, well, that’s when the bill comes home to everybody living in America.

I doubt this will happen in our lifetime, but the debt clock continues to horrify (see: No, Taxpayers Should NOT Bail Out Cinemas, Sorry Patty Jenkins and Other Millionaire Hollywood Directors).

Don’t even want to update the debt clock two months later, but, sadly, here it is …

In October 2020 debt was at just over 27 trillion. We’ve added another 500 million in the last two months and this new stimulus bill will add another trillion.

Rand Paul is getting slayed for his comments on the Senate floor. It’s gone viral.

Rand Paul lampoons the “deficits don’t matter disaster”

He was one of a small few who voted against the mammoth stimulus bill, loaded with garbage and a $600 kicker for the American people just, well, because.

Yes, streaming piracy simply must be a major priority in America right now (major eyeroll).

The “Protecting Lawful Streaming Act,” which was introduced earlier this month by Senator Thom Tillis, a Republican from North Carolina, doesn’t target casual internet users. The law specifies that it doesn’t apply to people who use illegal streaming services or “individuals who access pirated streams or unwittingly stream unauthorized copies of copyrighted works.” Rather, it’s focused on “commercial, for-profit streaming piracy services” that make money from illegally streaming copyrighted material.

10 years in prison for illegal streaming? It’s in the Covid-19 relief bill – CNN

We’re not condoning streaming piracy. We pay for all the streaming channels we have, but this issue is a very small priority right now. How it squirrels its way into a stimulus bill is disturbing at best.

No, the image at the top of this post is what it was. A sign from a comedy movie nearly 40 years ago is screaming “logic, people!” at us in 2020.

It’s no wonder many people despise politicians and the job they’re doing.

They should have had a stimulus bill passed months ago following the last one that addressed the people who truly needed the help. I liked the one that gave $2,000/month to people until the pandemic was over, because that seemed like actual, meaningful help directly to the American people. It would have been nice to see the American people for once be the recipients of help since debt is just fine to pile on for businesses galore. If we’re going to pile on the debt, then give the money to the people directly, not to more businesses and industries.

But no, the American people are worth half what we were six months ago. Sigh.

Finally, HBO Max Inks Deal With Roku

Early this morning, before it was publicly announced and no, we didn’t know anything, we said a deal would happen (see: Here’s Why We Think Roku HBO Max Deal Gets Done On or Before Christmas 2020) well, a couple hours ago it has been made official. Roku users will see the app tomorrow, 12/17/2020.

Roku and WarnerMedia have reached an agreement for the distribution of the HBO Max on the Roku platform — nearly seven months after the streaming service launched. HBO Max will be live on Roku effective tomorrow, Thursday, Dec. 17, the companies announced. The deal gives the streaming service coverage on all major over-the-top platforms.

HBO Max Is Finally Coming to Roku – Variety

This will end a long and quite unnecessary conflict that Roku should have resolved on day one when HBO Max launched. They had to make this deal, regardless whatever spin is put on it. HBO has been around forever and has quality streaming content, especially with the plan to day-and-date release all 17 theatrical movies in 2021 on HBO Max.

Glad to see this get done. Thank you HBO Max and Roku!

Just How Much Every Month Will You Spend on Streaming Channels?

Unless you are rich — and maybe still some of the wealthy, too — must have some sort of monthly budget for expenses.

In these troubled times, but hopefully soon improving as vaccines travel the world, we must look at whatever money we’re making and budget accordingly. Streaming channels are part of the overall entertainment budget and the cost of them is and will continue to rise.

Netflix has been not so quietly increasing its monthly subscription prices over the past few years (see: ) and in Disney’s recent earnings call, they announced plans to increase Disney+ pricing by a $1/month in March ($7.99/month instead of $6.99).

Disney plans on spending between $14 billion and $16 billion across its streaming ventures to make all those shows and movies. Someone has to pay for all that content — and that someone is probably you, the customer. If Disney wants to achieve its forecast of hitting profitability in fiscal 2024, it has to raise prices.

Streaming is about to get a lot more expensive – CNN

From time to time we analyze what we’re spending on entertainment. If you figure we can’t have our $44/month for the unlimited theater budget at the moment (see: ), that leaves an additional $44 for streaming channels.

Here’s what we’re spending and where (from most expensive to least):

  1. Netflix ($17/month + tax) $18.70
  2. HBO Max ($72 + tax, bi-annual) $13.20
  3. Amazon Prime ($120 + tax, annual) $11
  4. Disney+ ($80 + tax, annual) $7.33
  5. Hulu ($5.99/month + tax) $6.60
  6. CBS All Access ($5.99/month + tax) $6.60
  7. Peacock premium (Free, included with XFinity High Speed Internet)

= $63.43/month

All things considered, we feel like that $63.43 is reasonable. Do we want to see it rise to over $100/month? No, but something tells me in 5-10 years, perhaps sooner, the costs will continue to rise under the guise of, “hey, look how much content we have!”

Unless more of the channels we watch opt for advertising to pay the difference. CBS All Access and Hulu both have ads. HBO Max is going to add ads, but hopefully not to the subscription we’re on. The rest of the streaming channels we subscribe to don’t have ads at this time, including the most expensive: Netflix.

How much are you spending monthly on streaming? How much are you willing to spend going forward?

How Netflix Studies and Correlates Viewing Behavior To Determine Future Content Creation Decisions

What is linked and quoted below is a fascinating, although very technical, document discussing how Netflix currently studies and makes future content creation decisions based on existing and past viewer data.

While we’ve suggested before (see: Does Netflix Release Too Many Originals? Maybe Ask New CMO Bozoma Saint John) that Netflix seems to throw a lot of their originals at the wall to see what sticks, it’s much more calculated than that. Depending on how geeky and technical you are, the article linked below could be illuminating into their process.

Making great content is hard. It involves many different factors and requires considerable investment, all for an outcome that is very difficult to predict. The success of our titles is ultimately determined by our members, and we must do our best to serve their needs given the tools and data we have. We identified two ways to support content decision makers: surfacing similar titles and predicting audience size, drawing from various areas such as transfer learning, embedding representations, natural language processing, and supervised learning. Surfacing these types of insights in a scalable manner is becoming ever more crucial as both our subscriber base and catalog grow and become increasingly diverse.

Supporting content decision makers with machine learning | by Netflix Technology Blog | Dec, 2020 | Netflix TechBlog

To simplify at least some of what I understood — and I’m a very geeky, technical guy — they group story ideas together to find likeness and related types of content. It’s like a Google related search for keywords, using the framework of the stories and then instead of search results, it will yield the type of stories that specific viewing audience will be more likely to watch and enjoy.

Of course it’s not only watching once or few a few seconds, what type of content are viewers repeatedly watching. What are the demographics behind these viewers?

Combine all of these characteristics and an algorithm is developed to be able to predict what types of stories in what age groups in what geographic regions will yield successful results.

None of this guarantees a hit movie or TV show, of course, but it does increase the odds that a high percentage of viewers will watch a certain type of story.

This all reminds me of some fiction writing software that broke down conflicts between characters into types. You could mix and match story types and characters and essentially have a bare bones framework for a type of story. Then you just need to sit down and write the story based on the sequence of actions and events in the computer generated outline. It was all too wooden for me, too structured, that I never used it, but found it interesting.

Does it work? Just saying if you like Diehard, then you’ll like other movies like Diehard? Sure, on a very basic level, it does, but there have been a bunch of Diehard clones and only one Diehard to date. Not even Diehard sequels have been able to catch the lightning in the bottle of the first film.

Studios try to do something similar by remaking and rebooting movies and TV shows that did well in the past. They want to capitalize on the fond fan memories. It does work — until the new production has to stand on its own. Take Cobra Kai, for example, the idea would have been very gimmicky beyond the first episode or two, had it not had its own stories to tell. It did, and fans responded.

In 2020, we’re being studied by computers everywhere. What we search for, what we click on, what we open in email and what we watch on streaming channels. Maybe what will rise from the ashes of all this personal intrusion will be a service that does not study everything we do attempting to meaningfully make decisions based upon it. I mean, is this the future world we want all the time everywhere? Something tells me probably not.

Netflix Integration in Chromecast with Google TV “hobbled” says TechHive

This one doesn’t make much sense to me — from a customer service standpoint. Then again, companies that torpedo themselves usually often do so over control. When they try to control what we — their customers — like too much, then it drives us away. Sometimes to their peril.

(remember Quibi? They didn’t let us cast what was on our phones to TV)

More context is in order.

We’ve been quietly using Chromecast with Google TV over Roku since it launched. In fact, on our new 65″ 4K TV we don’t even have all our streaming account logins on Roku, but are on Chromecast with Google TV.

None of that explains why the new Chromecast with Google TV launched with Netflix integration in the first place, only to have it hobbled later, but my attempts to get answers from either company yielded nothing of substance. Google simply said that the level of integration on the new Chromecast can vary by partner, and Netflix said it’s trying to ensure a consistent experience across devices.

Netflix drags streaming TV backward. Cord-cutters should take note | TechHive

It’s puzzling that Netflix is limited the interaction with the relevant search on Chromecast, as this is a somewhat useful tab to see what’s playing across all the services.

Also, odd is the remote actually has a Netflix button. I’m sure the remote can be reprogrammed to point to something else, but Netflix is getting equal billing alongside YouTube on the remote when no other streaming service has a dedicated button. Clearly, Google wanted to promote Netflix as a primary streaming channel and to have all the Netflix Originals showing up in the relevant search. Netflix messing with this interaction for Google TV users seems very misguided to me.

It seems Netflix wants as much viewing behavior contained on their application, so they can graph and research subscriber activity, but they have viewing stats once the subscriber comes to their platform to view the title. How they got there is a little like saying, we want to know how you drove your car to our store, what roads you took, when you left, etc. It’s extraneous.

Conversely, Google wants to do much the same and sell our time using their apps. That’s how they make money. Our usage patterns are quietly creating the future of artificial intelligence.

Peacock’s Freeview Begins December 10

Peacock is throwing their free subscribers a bone in December, sharing an original movie every week that is currently available for premium subscribers only.

Peacock’s free tier lets users stream certain episodes with no subscription cost, but most full seasons require Peacock Premium. But this month, the streamer is giving free access to a new Original series every week. Peacock’s weekly “Freeview” begins December 10 with critically acclaimed conspiracy thriller, The Capture, a BBC original.

Peacock is Streaming a New Original Every Week For Free in December | Cord Cutters News

Schedule:

  • December 10-16: The Capture
  • December 17-23: Five Bedrooms
  • December 24-30: Brave New World

Brave New World has been on my watchlist for some time. I keep saying I’m going to start watching it, but keep getting pulled in a different direction.

Any of these freeview titles of interest to you?