Patents

HEVC Advance Announces H.265 Royalty Rates, Raises Some Hackles 183 183

An anonymous reader writes: The HEVC Advance patent pool has announced the royalty rates for their patent license for HEVC (aka H.265) video. HEVC users must pay these fees in addition to the license fees payable to the competing MPEG LA HEVC patent pool. With HEVC Advance's fees targeting 0.5% of content owner revenue which could translate to licensing costs of over $100M a year for companies like Facebook and Netflix, Dan Rayburn from Streaming Media advocates that "content owners band together and agree not to license from HEVC Advance" in the hope that "HEVC Advance will fail in the market and be forced to change strategy, or change their terms to be fair and reasonable." John Carmack, Oculus VR CTO, has cited the new patent license as a reason to end his efforts to encode VR video with H.265.
Businesses

Netflix Hoping For Free Network Access From ISPs 85 85

sabri writes: Netflix soared on Wall Street today after their earnings announcement. They also stated that they hope to get more free network access arrangements (aka "free peering"). Fortune reports: "Netflix hopes the Charter peering pledge could serve not only its own interests, but establish an industry-wide practice for internet TV. Hastings said he hopes free peering will spare the emerging industry from the sort of battles that continue to plague the cable TV industry industry, in which stations go dark whenever distributor and content owner haggle over a 'retransmission' price."
Australia

Aussie ISP Bakes In Geo-dodging For Netflix, Hulu 40 40

New submitter ste7en7 writes: A new Australian ISP is integrating geo-blocking circumvention into its broadband service, allowing customers to access streaming services like Hulu, Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer and Amazon Prime. When Yournet launches in August, customers will be able to sign up for broadband that allows users to instantly change the country they are supposedly surfing from.
Government

Can New Chicago Taxes On Netflix, Apple, Spotify Withstand Legal Challenges? 188 188

Mr D from 63 writes: Today, a new "cloud tax" takes effect in the city of Chicago, targeting online databases and streaming entertainment services. Residents who stream movies and music from companies like Netflix and Spotify will now need to pay an additional 9% tax. This also applies to Chicago businesses that pay to use databases online. Chicago expects to collect $12 million a year as a result of the new tax ruling. From the 24/7 Wall St. story: "Also worth noting is that the city’s tax ruling in both cases avoids the issue of whether there is a close-enough connection (nexus, in legalese) to require providers like Netflix or others to collect either tax. International law firm ReedSmith weighs in on this point as well: '[O]nce the Department begins to audit and assess customers located within the city, many of those customers are likely to demand that providers collect the tax going forward. As a result, many providers will likely feel the need to register to collect the taxes, despite lacking nexus, and despite having strong arguments against the Department’s expansive interpretation of its taxing ordinances.'"
The Internet

Why Americans Loathe Cable Companies 229 229

HughPickens.com writes: Vikas Bajaj writes in the NYT that the results are in and the American Customer Satisfaction Index shows that customer satisfaction with cable TV, Internet and phone service providers have declined to a seven-year low. Of the 43 industries on which the survey solicits opinions, TV and Internet companies tied for last place in customer satisfaction. "Internet and TV have always been among the lowest scoring," says David VanAmburg, director of the Index. "But this year they're at the very bottom." The study, which is based on more than 14,000 consumer surveys, gives companies a rating from 0 to 100. The ACSI reports huge drops in customer satisfaction for Comcast and Time Warner Cable, following their failed merger. Already one of the lowest-scoring companies in the ACSI, Comcast sheds 10 percent to a customer satisfaction score of 54. Meanwhile, Time Warner Cable earns the distinction as least-satisfying company in the Index after falling 9 percent to 51. Joining Time Warner Cable in the basement is ACSI newcomer Mediacom Communications (51), which serves smaller markets in the Midwest and South. "Customer service in these industries has long been bad," says VanAmburg of Internet and TV providers. "They don't have a good business model for handling inquiries with efficiency and respect. It goes back a decade plus."

Even though those complaints are longstanding, customer frustration has risen along with the ever-rising prices. "You compound all that with the prices customers are paying, and that's the final straw," says VanAmburg. "They're opening bills each month and saying 'I'm paying how much?'" In an age of over-the-top viewing options like Hulu and Netflix, customer dissatisfaction may increasingly translate to companies' bottom lines. "There was a time when pay TV could get away with discontented users without being penalized by revenue losses from defecting customers," says Claes Fornell, chairman and founder of the Index. "But those days are over."
Businesses

Bell Media President Says Canadians Are 'Stealing' US Netflix Content 408 408

iONiUM writes: Today the Bell Media president claimed that Canadians are "stealing" U.S. Netflix, saying the practice is "stealing just like stealing anything else." She went on to say that it is socially unacceptable behavior, and "It has to become socially unacceptable to admit to another human being that you are VPNing into U.S. Netflix. Like throwing garbage out of your car window, you just don't do it. We have to get engaged and tell people they're stealing." Of course, I'm sure the fact that Bell Media profits from Canadian content has nothing to do with these remarks.
Advertising

Netflix Is Experimenting With Advertising 318 318

derekmead writes: Netflix is experimenting with pre-roll and post-roll advertisements for some of its users. For now, it's just pitching it's own original programming. However, many are concerned that they plan to serve third-party ads, but the company says they have no plans to do so. They told Mashable in a statement: "We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we've teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that."
Android

NVIDIA SHIELD Android TV Reviewed: Gaming and Possibly the Ultimate 4K Streamer 54 54

Earlier this week, NVIDIA officially launched its SHIELD Android TV set-top device, with far more horsepower than something like Roku or Apple TV, but on par with an average game console, and at a more affordable price tag of $199. MojoKid writes: What's interesting, however, is that it's powered by NVIDIA's Tegra X1 SoC which features a Maxwell-derived GPU and eight CPU cores; four ARM A57 cores and four A53s. The A57 cores are 64-bit, out-of-order designs, with multi-issue pipelines, while the A53s are simpler, in-order, highly-efficient designs. Which cores are used will depend on the particular workload being executed at the time. Tegra X1 also packs a 256-core Maxwell-derived GPU with the same programming capabilities and API support as NVIDIA's latest desktop GPUs. In standard Android benchmarks, the SHIELD pretty much slays any current high-end tablet or smartphone processor in graphics, but is about on par with the octal-core Samsung Exynos in terms of standard compute workloads but handily beating and octal-core Qualcomm Snapdragon. What's also interesting about the SHIELD Android TV is that it's not only an Android TV-capable device with movie and music streaming services like Netflix etc., but it also plays any game on Google Play and with serious horsepower behind it. The SHIELD Android TV is also the first device certified for Netflix's Ultra HD 4K streaming service.
Media

Android, Chromecast To Get HBO Now 39 39

An anonymous reader writes: Google's I/O 2015 conference opened with a surprise announcement: that Chromecast, Android TV, and other Android devices will soon be able to offer HBO Now. "The announcement marks the end of a 7-week exclusive that Apple had on HBO's stand-alone streaming and on-demand video service," reports Digital Trends, and it also further weakens the exclusivity of cable TV packages. "Traditional TV subscriptions are slowly starting to slip," one newspaper reports, "as more people watch online video." Other online streaming sites are already confronting the popularity of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series, with Netflix already experiencing a 33% dip in their online traffic during the new season's online premiere and Amazon rushing to discount their "Game of Thrones" graphic novels, and the turmoil seems to be continuing in the online video space. "Shortly after the premier of the new season, HBO Now seems to have taken the top spot when it comes to internet traffic," reports one technology site, "causing a huge dent in Netflix's attempt to make it to the top."
Stats

A Tool For Analyzing H-1B Visa Applications Reveals Tech Salary Secrets 124 124

Tekla Perry writes: The golden age of engineers is not over,' says a French software engineer who developed a tool for mining U.S. Department of Labor visa application data, but, he says, salaries appear to be leveling off. Indeed, salary inflation for software engineers and other technical professionals at Google and Facebook has slowed dramatically, according to his database, and Airbnb and Dropbox pay is down a little, though Netflix pay is through the roof. The data also shows that some large companies appear to be playing games with titles to deflate salaries, and Microsoft is finally offering technology professionals comparable salaries to Apple and Google. There's a lot more to be discovered in this interactive database, and researchers are getting ready to mine it.
DRM

Firefox 38 Arrives With DRM Required To Watch Netflix 371 371

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched Firefox 38 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Notable additions to the browser include Digital Rights Management (DRM) tech for playing protected content in the HTML5 video tag on Windows, Ruby annotation support, and improved user interfaces on Android. Firefox 38 for the desktop is available for download now on Firefox.com, and all existing users should be able to upgrade to it automatically. As always, the Android version is trickling out slowly on Google Play. Note that there is a separate download for Firefox 38 without the DRM support. Our anonymous reader adds links to the release notes for desktop and Android.
Australia

Australia: Your Digital Games (and Movies!) Could Be About to Jump In Price 125 125

dotarray writes with a snippet of news from Australia about expanded taxation for digital goods. From Player Attack comes the gist: Australians really are about to start paying more for digital services — including Steam games — as Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey has confirmed plans to introduce a 'Netflix tax' in this week's Federal Budget. As mentioned last week, this is not a new tax, but an extension of Australia's current Goods and Services Tax to include digital services, adding 10% to virtual items and services purchased online. Details have not yet been revealed, but potential services include not only Steam games but also Netflix subscriptions and even Uber trips.
Businesses

Netflix Open-Sources Security Incident Management Tool 9 9

alphadogg writes: Netflix has released under an open-source license an internal tool it developed to manage a deluge of security alerts and incidents. Called FIDO (Fully Integrated Defense Operation), the tool is designed to research, score and categorize threats in order to speed up handling of the most urgent ones.
Verizon

Verizon Tells Customer He Needs 75Mbps For Smoother Netflix Video 170 170

An anonymous reader writes: Verizon recently told a customer that upgrading his 50Mbps service to 75Mbps would result in smoother streaming of Netflix video. Of course, that's not true — Netflix streams at a rate of about 3.5 Mbps on average for Verizon's fiber service, so there's more than enough headroom either way. But this customer was an analyst for the online video industry, so he did some testing and snapped some screenshots for evidence. He fired up 10 concurrent streams of a Game of Thrones episode and found only 29Mbps of connection being used. This guy was savvy enough to see through Verizon's BS, but I'm sure there are millions of customers who wouldn't bat an eye at the statements they were making. The analyst "believes that the sales pitch he received is not just an isolated incident, since he got the same pitch from three sales reps over the phone and one online."
Television

Netflix Is Betting On Exclusive Programming 216 216

An anonymous reader writes: You may have heard of the recent launch of the new Daredevil TV show, and possibly the hit shows House of Cards and Orange is the New Black. They're all original programming from Netflix — the company that used to just mail DVDs to your door. But Netflix is now running a lot more than just those three shows — it has 320 hours of original programming planned for this year. This article discusses how Netflix is betting big on original, exclusive content, and what that means for the future of television. "Traditionally, television networks needed to stand for something to carve out an audience, he said, whereas the Internet allows brands to mean different things to different people because the service can be personalized for individual viewers. That means that for a conservative Christian family, Netflix should stand for wholesome entertainment, and, for a 20-year-old New York college student, it should be much more on the edge, he said.... 'We've had 80 years of linear TV, and it's been amazing, and in its day the fax machine was amazing,' he said. "The next 20 years will be this transformation from linear TV to Internet TV.'"
Television

Daredevil TV Show Debuts; Early Reviews Positive 114 114

An anonymous reader writes: Daredevil has been a staple of Marvel's superhero lineup since the 1960s. But Daredevil's most recent on-screen legacy was a terrible film in 2003 starring Ben Affleck. Since then, Marvel has gotten a lot better at adapting comics to the big and small screen. Yesterday saw the debut of a new Daredevil television series. It's a Netflix original, which means the whole first season went up at once. Early reviews of the show are quite complimentary. Slate praises the acting, and adds, "Daredevil is a bloody show that also bleeds: It has more interest in human bodies than much recent Marvel fare, and more interest in human beings as well. It's remarkably patient, resisting the urge to tell its viewers everything at once, a restraint largely enabled by the binge-y sprawl of the Netflix format." Ars Technica says the violence can be a bit over-the-top at times, but praises how the choreography and cinematography reflect the main character's blindness. The Verge simply says Daredevil raises the bar for superhero television, even though many new shows have found success recently.
Businesses

Netflix Algorithm Tells You When Your Best Employee Is About To Leave You 210 210

An anonymous reader writes "Former Netflix data scientist Mohammad Sabah has used the basis of the video-streaming company's movie-recommendation engine to create a new system to predict when valuable employees are likely to leave your company for pastures new. The new application 'Workday Talent Insights' uses the basis of the engine to correlate diverse factors such as interval between promotions and current length of tenure with equivalent job opportunities at employment websites, in order to gauge 'corporate restlessness', and provide options for employers who identify potential leavers."
The Courts

9th Circuit Rules Netflix Isn't Subject To Disability Law 278 278

An anonymous reader writes with news that the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit has ruled that Netflix doesn't have to caption their videos. "A federal appeals court ruled (PDF) yesterday that the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) doesn't apply to Netflix, since the online video provider is 'not connected to any actual, physical place.' Donald Cullen sued Netflix in March 2011, attempting to kick off a class-action lawsuit on behalf of disabled people who didn't have full use of the videos because they aren't all captioned. A district court judge threw out his lawsuit in 2013, and yesterday's ruling by the US Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upholds that decision. The decision is 'unpublished,' meaning it isn't intended to be used as precedent in other cases. However, it certainly doesn't bode well for any plaintiff thinking about filing a similar case in the 9th Circuit, which covers most of the Western US."
Media

Ask Slashdot: Building a Home Media Center/Small Server In a Crawlspace? 253 253

An anonymous reader writes "I've decided it's time for me to build a separate machine specifically for use as a Media Center/Small Home Server. My wife and I haven't had cable TV in years, instead relying entirely on Netflix, other streaming sites, and hard copies we've bought over the years. Having just finished ripping our entire media collection (CDs, DVDs, and even our vinyls and VHS with the help of a capture card and some sweet digital voodoo) to a couple HDDs, I'm feeling froggy. Up until now we've been using WDTV Live, and it's been pretty snazzy, but I want to upgrade to a dedicated media machine instead of piggybacking off of my office computer. It'll be a Windows based machine utilizing Plex, and it's going in the crawlspace of the house. The crawlspace in question is unfinished, but I do have a dry concrete slab down there where I can put/mount/assemble something. Cooling won't be an issue obviously, and I am keeping a close eye on hardware specs with regards to moisture. It is still a crawlspace though. What would be a good setup to to house the hardware? Priorities being to safeguard against moisture, vermin, and dirt. Modified PC Tower? Rack? Build an enclosure? Something I haven't considered?

Please assume I'm stubborn and absolutely dead-set on putting it in the crawlspace to avoid the discussion devolving into the 'best' place to put a media machine."
Hardware Hacking

Watch an Original NES Run Netflix 80 80

sarahnaomi writes with this story about a NES running Netflix. I don't know how you get Netflix to play on an original Nintendo, but it's been blowing my mind for the last 18 hours or so. Netflix posted the video with painfully little explanation. I have tried in many ways to get in touch with the Netflix developers who did what you see above, but no one is getting back to me, so here are some wild speculations."