I rarely buy electronics for family members. Older relatives aren't always enchanted by the latest smartphone or tablet, and younger folks either already have it--they trend as early adopters--or have specific technology preferences. But this year, I'm comfortable buying at least one consumer device for some of my immediate family: a streaming stick.
Despite what FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai might think, Netflix says it has never instituted a "fast lane" that interferes with ISPs that are working on caching systems to accelerate content across broadband networks and is actually helping ISPs.
With traditionally linear TV companies now at the point where they must invest significantly more in IP video delivery, and no clear monetization strategy yet gelling, investors want to know if TV is still a good bet. It is--if broadcasters and networks can wrap their heads around OTT delivery.
Despite the possibility of hitting a subscriber wall in the United States, Netflix is putting its focus on creating quality content to attract and retain viewers--both at home and abroad, according to Ted Sarandos, content chief for the SVOD provider. And that means premiering original content, either brand new series or movies, or a new season, every two and a half weeks on average--eventually.
Billionaire entrepreneur and sports team owner Mark Cuban isn't all that impressed with streaming video as a competitor to cable TV. In fact, he takes issue with boasts that streaming services such as Netflix will soon dance on cable's grave, arguing instead that the two media need each other.
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has taken issue with what appears to be Netflix's contradictory stance on Internet fast lanes. Pai, in a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, chided the streaming video company for its "basic argument" that it believes in free and open Internet while at the same time installing "its own proprietary caching appliances throughout ISPs' networks as part of an Open Content program."
A Digital TV Research report predicts that Netflix will reach 17 million paying subscribers internationally by the end of 2014 thanks to launches in six European countries since the latest numbers were announced in September. In related news, Netflix is shelling out $90 million--second only to HBO's Game of Thrones investment--for a new series Marco Polo that it hopes will attract more international viewers.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says that whatever final net neutrality rules the commission issues next year, the FCC will be challenged in the courts by major service providers.
Seems like everyone and their mother is trying to launch a content service over the top these days. But so far, the ever-growing number of available streaming services has brought in real profit to only a few--even Netflix is struggling to maintain decent margins--while frustrating consumers searching for the content they want to watch. Could alliances between online video providers--rather than industry consolidation--help resolve these problems?
With just under 40 million subscribers in the United States, Netflix "may be reaching the ceiling of what it can add," according to an article exploring the subscription video on demand provider's profit potential. Combined with ever-increasing prices for Hollywood content and stiff international competition, times could get pretty interesting for Netflix.