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Netflix and HBO Duke It Out for Scandinavia

August 21, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

Netflix, HBOContinuing their world conquest for domination of screens everywhere, Netflix recently announced expansion into 4 Nordic countries: Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland. Not to be outdone, HBO, a unit of Time Warner Inc, said the following day that they too will be launching a video distribution venture — alongside Parsifal International — dubbed HBO Nordic.

Nordic consumers already have access to similar offerings from Amazon, Lovefilm and Acetrax, but the addition of Netflix and HBO will bring a plethora of great content that hasn’t been available through a streaming service to date.

Why the heated competition in the Nordic region? According to Nordstat, these countries have a fixed broadband household penetration of 80% to 92% — significantly higher than the EU average of 67%. They also represent a high level of mobile broadband users. More internet connectivity, in theory, should lead to higher availability of streaming services and presumably subscriptions.

It will be fun to watch as two sides of the content model duke it out. In the blue corner stands the reigning champion — HBO, the cable networks and content creators of yesteryear — who aren’t going to let anyone make a buck on their premium content. In the red corner stands the new distribution models — the Netflix’s of the world — who are scraping for every piece of content they can get their hands on (even if it means making their own). Let’s all hope that we, the consumers, come out on top after the bell rings!

Our 5 Favorite Music Videos From June

July 19, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

As part of the operations, we see a lot of music videos. Here’s our favorites from the month of June:

1. Races – “Lies”

Frontman Wade Ryff gets kicked around suburbia in what feels like a bad dream. It all ends with a scene eerily reminiscent of a zombie flick.

2. A Toys Orchestra – “WELCOME TO BABYLON”

If you’re queasy, I would skip the first 5 seconds (HINT: Babies), but the rest is worth it. A life story — that we can all relate to — told through magnificent cinematography.

3. Giulia Millanta – “The Old Man”

Giulia Millanta quaintly reminds us that potato sack dolls have feelings too.

… Continue Reading

Ev[lov]ing The Next Hit…

Darwin Tunes We were all taught Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection in High School, but what if, through the same process, we were able to write new and appealing songs? Bob MacCallum and his colleagues at the Imperial College London are developing a system for doing just that.

Their music engine DarwinTunes starts with a population of short audio loops to be voted on by users. The favored loops go on to sexually reproduce and their mutated children return to the population to be voted on in the next cycle. Utilizing almost 7,000 user’s tastes for selection MacCallum’s team discovered that after only 500 generations, the random noise begins to evolve into aesthetically pleasing chords and rhythms.

In the future, the team hopes to scale DarwinTunes to support millions of users. “We may see a leap to a new plateau,” says MacCallum, “Done properly, we reckon the quality of the music would be pretty much comparable to current man-made electronic and dance music, but a lot more democratic.”

Forget Sun-Bathing… What Hulu Thinks You Should Do This Summer

May 22, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

huluIn an declaration of war on our intake of Vitamin D, Hulu has announced three original shows and seven exclusives slated to air this summer. The half-hour originals include: Spoilers, a movie review show hosted by Kevin Smith; Up to Speed, a travel series hosted by Timothy “Speed” Levitch; and We Got Next, a scripted comedy following a pickup basketball team.

The list of exclusives includes four shows out of the U.K. which Andy Forssell, SVP of Content at Hulu, calls a “rich hunting ground” with “some of the worst TV and some of the greatest in the world.” I agree with Mr. Forssell on the grounds that my couch cushions have never recovered from a weekend-long, 7-season overindulgence of BBC’s Peep Show.

While much of the $500 million Hulu intends to spend on content this year will continue to go into licensing, interest in originals — especially with budgets that match their television counterparts, is always good news for cable-cutters. Online originals are nothing new however; I mentioned some from Netflix last year and both YouTube and Yahoo have spent some dough on their own.

Check out the full list of exclusives and an undoubtably better description of the originals here in the press release.

YouTube and Google Play Add 600 MGM Titles

April 17, 2012 Film/TV News No Comments

google playHot off the heels of a deal that brought 500 Paramount films to their movie rental service, YouTube has announced another major studio partnership with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. This ink brings over 600 MGM titles to YouTube/Google Play including some of the best action flicks of all time — Terminator, Robocop, and Rocky. They have not made clear all the titles included though, stating instead to “keep checking back” and see for yourself.

The reluctance to state additional titles leads me to doubt the existence of  any recent films like Hot Tub Time Machine or *cough* The Pink Panther 2. With online film viewership expected to double in the next year (overtaking physical media), major studios are going to have their hands full trying to squeeze every penny out of their IP and, yes, you the consumer. Unless Google (or anyone else) can convince them that they will make more green on their platform, there will be no incentive for the big boys to cough up their high-profile content. After all, most of them are trying to pimp their own direct-to-consumer offerings like Epix, a joint-venture between Viacom (Paramount), MGM, and Lionsgate.

No matter how the digital dust settles, it’s great to see Google /YouTube/Google Play — whatever they want us to call them — picking up a heap of new content. We were beginning to get worried after a few flopped platform launches

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