Looks like Yahoo wants to invest a lot of money in its future. First they purchased Tumblr last week for 1.1 billion U.S. dollars, then for an unspecified amount obtained PlayerScale, and now Hulu is their next target. The company is reportedly ready to offer 800 million U.S. dollars for this acquisition.
One of Hulu's first investors, Providence, decided to sell its stake in the streaming media company for $200 million, which is twice as much they invested in Hulu back in 2007. That investment gave them a 10% stake and an independent position on the company board. They decided to move from the company back in April and earned themselves a decent amount of money. With Providence moving out the only investors left are NBC Universal, Disney and Fox. This move could have a huge impact on Hulu's future, as Providence made some big moves in their past like bringing Disney in as a new investor.
Netgear has decided to upgrade their existing line of media players and has come out with three new ones. They hope that these will be decent competition for Apple TV and Roku's streaming boxes. The basic model the Neo TV will be available for $49.99, while the NeoTV Pro and NeoTV MAX will go for $59.99 and $69.99 respectively. The new line will have HTML 5 support and more content sources compared to previous models, also it will have Push2TV media streamer for pushing media from smartphones or laptops to the big screen.
For home theater enthusiasts there is some good news today as we have found out that XBMC is working on a Media Center for use with the Android operating system. Many sites are reporting this as a “leak”, but as the information comes straight from XBMC’s own page we are going to call it a sneak peak. Ever since the first few Android based media players popped up on the market we have noted a rather large gap in what they offer. While most of them do have access to a limited form of the internet and you can access pictures and other items from your own network, the UI is clunky and not really suited for a home theater environment.
Western Digital is expanding their product line. The Hard Drive maker (and maker of home media players) has decided to attempt to dive into the home networking market. To do this they are introducing a new line of routers called My Net. According to Western Digital My Net is designed to optimize the viewing of online streaming media services and online gaming.
Facebook is a force to be reckoned with; we have seen this by the way they knocked the once great MySpace into the “who is that?” category. They have challenged almost all other social networking sites and won (with the exception of some of the *cough* adult ones). However, they have also gotten a bit, or rather more cocky than they should. Facebook has begun to implement changes that do not appear to be what their users want and in some cases risk their users personal privacy.
However, one tool they do have that makes them much more nimble than others is Open Graph. It is Open Graph that allows an almost seamless integration with Facebook for websites and many applications. This is also the tool they are going to use to put one of their boldest plans into action. This is the integration of music and video services right into Facebook. With this new plug in you will be able to share what you are watching and listening to on services like Hulu, Spotify Rhapsody and more right on your profile page. (Anyone want to bet on how long before RIAA and MPAA chime in on this?)
The service is up and running now globally (although no Netflix for the US due to video sharing laws) so I am sure we will all know what our friends are listening to or watching in short order. With the power of Open Graph we have to wonder what Facebook will integrate next.
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Remember how we told you that Fox was planning to create a larger delay in their online programming available to non-paid Hulu and Fox.com users? Well as you might have expected the people that are not “subscribers”, you know the ones that are being forced to wait longer, are now downloading these same programs from Torrent and other file sharing sites.
Right after the original announcement, which was designed (according to Fox) to improve their “authenticated” subscribers viewing experience, there was quite an uproar over the delay. Many felt that it was not about improving anything more than Fox’s revenue. After all no matter the delay the cable and satellite viewers are still getting the same experience.
Of course the timing is important as well, many online viewers are disappointed with the available content services right now. Netflix is raising their rates and managed to kick Windows Media Center and other non-web users off their service for a couple of days. All of this is going on while the ISPs are planning to cap the amount of data you can download each month. It makes us wonder about the state of online content. There seems to be a decided effort to push people away from online content and back to the cable and satellite services. The sad part is that this won’t work, but it will give the content providers and ISPs more ammunition to put restrictions, filters and worse on the internet. The same thing is going to happen with the Anon issue. The more we see this happen the more the powers that be can point to these things and say “see, we told you”.
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It looks like the days of free internet TV are coming to a close as the big media companies work to push people back to the tether of cable or other pay services. This should not come as a shock to anyone at all really. After all none of the media companies want you to have access to these shows/movies in a format that they cannot control. We have seen this type of move before with the Music Industry and with the current crop of media giants. The movie and TV companies still have a problem letting go and giving people access over the scary internet. The problem is one of money (it always is); the powers that be are a tad greedy and cannot see how they can make enough if they just allow access to these shows for free…
We have heard that Netflix is changing their pricing in September. We suspected as much after they screwed up their authorization algorithm a few weeks before and kicked all of the Media Center PCs and a few Boxiees out for a few days. The new setup allows them better control and monitoring over their clients who chose to stream content and also provides for better protection against copying the video stream when using a Windows Media Center PC. Of course our initial belief that Netflix was going to begin charging more for people with extended capabilities (like Media Center) did not emerge we still think that Netflix may have had this in mind.