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China

Netflix Is Now In China Via a Deal With iQiyi (techcrunch.com) 17

randomErr writes: Last year, Netflix tried to go into China but ran into regulatory issues. So Netflix has entered into a licensing deal with iQiyi. iQiyi was founded in 2010 by Baidu in a very similar way that Google owns YouTube. What Netflix content will be shown and how the subscription service will work has yet to be announced.
Social Networks

Facebook Owns Four Out of the Five Most Downloaded Apps Worldwide (thenextweb.com) 54

An anonymous reader shares a report: Facebook continues to storm the numbers as the company has claimed four out of the five spots for the most downloaded apps across the globe during the last quarter. Interestingly, Netflix still lords over everyone as far as revenue goes. New research by app analytics firm Sensor Tower reveals that WhatsApp, Facebook, Messenger, Instagram and Snapchat were the most downloaded apps for the first three months of this year. While the numbers differed across the App Store and Google Play, one thing both platforms shared is that Facebook owned four out of the top five spots for the most downloaded apps worldwide. While Messenger topped the App Store download charts, Facebook headed the race on Google Play.
Movies

Netflix Nears 100 Million Subscribers (go.com) 47

With the release of its first-quarter earnings, Netflix predicted it will surpass 100 million global subscribers this weekend. "The service added nearly 5 million subscribers during the first three months of the year, and will end March with 98.7 million customers in roughly 190 countries," reports ABC News. From the report: About 51 million of Netflix's subscribers are in the U.S. By the end of this year, Piper Jaffray analyst Michael Olson expects the majority of the company's subscribers to be overseas. Netflix ended March with nearly 48 million subscribers outside the U.S. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings expects the next 100 million subscribers to come more quickly than the first 100 million, but he didn't provide a specific timetable during online video review of the company's first quarter. The Los Gatos, California company currently has a market value of about $63 billion. Its stock rose $1.90 to $149.15 in Monday's extended trading, even though subscriber growth during the first quarter came in slightly below management forecasts. As it is, Netflix expects to spend about $6 billion on programming this year. The Los Gatos, California, company earned $178 million on revenue of $2.6 billion in the first quarter. Analysts predict Netflix will make $482 million on revenue of more than $11 billion for the entire year.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

Troll With 'Stupid Patent' Sues EFF. EFF Sues Them Back (arstechnica.com) 68

"The Electronic Frontier Foundation has sued an Australian company that it previously dubbed as a 'classic patent troll' in a June 2016 blog post entitled: Stupid Patent of the Month: Storage Cabinets on a Computer." An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Last year, that company, Global Equity Management (SA) Pty. Ltd. (GEMSA), managed to get an Australian court to order EFF to remove its post -- but EFF did not comply. In January 2017, Pasha Mehr, an attorney representing GEMSA, further demanded that the article be removed and that EFF pay $750,000. EFF still did not comply. The new lawsuit, filed in federal court in San Francisco on Wednesday, asks that the American court declare the Australian ruling unenforceable in the U.S.
GEMSA's attorneys reportedly threatened to have the EFF's post de-indexed from search engine listings -- on the basis of the Australian court order -- so now the EFF "seeks a court order declaring the Australian injunction 'repugnant' to the U.S. Constitution and unenforceable in the United States."

The Register reports that GEMSA has already sued 37 companies, "including big-name tech companies Airbnb, Uber, Netflix, Spotify, and eBay. In each case, GEMSA accused the company's website design of somehow trampling on the GUI patent without permission." But things were different after the EFF's article, according to Courthouse News. "GEMSA said the article made it harder to enforce its patents in the United States, citing its legal opponents' 'reduced interest in pursuing pre-trial settlement negotiations.'"
Movies

17 Years Later, A New Season Of MST3K Premiers On Netflix 84

Launched in 1988, Mystery Science Theater 3000 ran for ten seasons on Comedy Central and The Sci-Fi Channel, with its last episode airing in August of 1999. But now Slashdot reader #5844 ewhac writes: 17 years later, Season 11 of MST3K debuted Friday on Netflix. A full season has been produced, including a stretch-goal Christmas special, funded by the highest-earning Kickstarter Film & Video campaign to date ($5.76 million) -- thousands of contributors are listed in the show's end credits, spread across all fourteen episodes.

The show remains true to its low-budget roots, relying almost exclusively on models and practical effects, including a very inventive new door sequence. The backstory for the new season is very swiftly established in the opening to Experiment 1101, as Jonah Heston (played by co-producer Jonah Ray) is abducted by the evil mad scientist Kinga Forrester (Felicia Day) and her sidekick Max a/k/a TV's son of TV's Frank (Patton Oswalt). Together with Gypsy (Rebecca Hanson), Tom Servo (Baron Vaughn), and Crow (Hampton Yount), Jonah quips his way through a barrage of bad movies, including Reptilicus, Starcrash, The Loves of Hercules, and The Christmas That Almost Wasn't.

In 2008 MST3K's original creator Joel Hodgson answered questions from Slashdot's readers, and said he was fascinated by the popularity of Creative Commons licenses. "For most of the public domain titles that we've used, it's a matter of the garbage not being taken out. Basically, they forgot to apply for a copyright so it in fact lapsed into the public domain."
Operating Systems

Roku-Enabled TVs Will Soon 'Listen' To Programs You're Watching To Suggest Streaming Content (variety.com) 52

Roku-enabled TVs will be receiving a new OS update that will listen to what show or movie you're watching via your cable or satellite set-top or over-the-air antenna, in order to suggest internet-streaming content. "Compatible TVs will use automatic content recognition (ACR) technology to identify the content and then suggest additional viewing options available on via streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Vudu," reports Variety. From the report: It may seem vaguely Big Brother-ish, but Roku is being careful about ensuring consumer privacy: Users will be required to enable the feature via an opt-in prompt. In addition, the "More Ways to Watch" feature can be turned off at any time (although Roku says viewing information collected prior to the feature being turned off will not be deleted). For now, the "More Ways to Watch" feature is available only in the U.S., and only for Roku-enabled television sets available from Best Buy's Insignia, Sharp, Hisense and TCL. It will be coming first to conventional HDTV models first, followed by support for 4K Roku TV models later this summer.
Media

West Point Researchers Demonstrate Passive Netflix Traffic Analysis Attack (threatpost.com) 64

hypercard writes: Researchers from West Point recently presented research on a real-time passive analysis of Netflix traffic. The paper, entitled "Identifying HTTPS-Protected Netflix Videos in Real-Time" is based on research conducted by Andrew Reed, Michael Kranch and Benjamin Klimkowski. The team's technique demonstrates frighteningly accurate results based solely on information captured from TCP/IP headers. Even with the recent upgrade to HTTPS, their technique was effective at identifying the correct video with greater than 99.99 percent accuracy against their database of over 42,000 videos. "When tested against 200 random 20-minute video streams, our system identified 99.5 percent of the videos with the majority of the identifications occurring less than two and a half minutes into the video stream," the paper reads. However, there are important points to note. First, the attack described only applies to streams still using Silverlight. Additionally, an attacker would likely need significant resources and access to intercept, fingerprint and process the traffic in real time. Netflix has reacted positively to the team's research and acknowledged the issue as a known drawback to processing video streams with HTTPS.
Google

Silicon Valley Kicks Off Fight On Net Neutrality (cnn.com) 126

Web companies met with FCC Ajit Pai on Tuesday and urged him not to gut the net neutrality rules that protect their traffic, a week after he met with broadband providers that have tried to kill the Obama-era regulations. From a report: The Internet Association, a trade group representing companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon, stressed the importance of defending current net neutrality rules in a meeting with Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday. "The internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition and innovation online," the group said in the meeting, according to a filing with the FCC. "Existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept in tact." The net neutrality rules, approved by the FCC in 2015, are intended to keep the internet open and fair. The rules prevent internet providers from playing favorites by deliberately speeding up or slowing down traffic from specific websites and apps. This is the first face-to-face encounter between the tech association and the new FCC head. It comes on the heels of reports Pai met with the telecom industry to discuss changing how the rules are enforced, potentially weakening them.
Education

Over 90% of College Students Today Regularly Use Netflix, But Only 34% Are Actually Paying For Their Own Account (streamingobserver.com) 55

According to a new survey from LendEDU, more than 90% of today's college students have access to a Netflix account they regularly use, while only 8% who responded to the survey said they don't have a Netflix account. What some may find even more surprising is that of the 90% of students who have access to Netflix, only 34% of them are actually paying for their own Netflix account. Streaming Observer News reports: That actually goes right in line with numbers from Piper Jaffray that showed almost 40% of teens watch Netflix every single day. Their closest competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, each came in at just 3% each for daily use. Of course, that doesn't mean they're all paying for Netflix. 54% of respondents to LendEDU's survey said they use a family member's or friend's account, and 5% more said they used a boyfriend/girlfriend or ex's account. While only 34% of college students are actually paying for their own Netflix account, that's apparently not too big of a concern for Netflix, who has taken a relatively lax attitude towards password sharing in recent years.
Movies

A Case For Why Movie-Theater Experience Is Still Worth the Effort (theverge.com) 370

It's all but confirmed that major Hollywood studios are chalking out plans to make movies available in the home mere weeks after their theatrical debuts. Some director and producers, including Christopher Nolan of Inception, The Dark Knight, The Prestige and Interstellar fame are seemingly opposed to the idea, urging people to watch movies at the theaters for "best experience." The Verge has an article today in which it lists 10 reasons it thinks people should not stop going to the cinema halls. From the article, condensed for space:
1. The big screen. There's something to be said about watching visual storytelling on a three-story screen, particularly when the film really takes advantage of the format.
2. People everywhere. A group of people laughing together simultaneously triggers a feeling that you should laugh, too; during a suspenseful moment, you can feel dozens of strangers suck in their breath together.
3. Focus. Even people who try their hardest to give a movie their undivided attention on a living-room screen have fallen victim to temptations like "Well, I'm just sitting here, I might as well pay the electric bill."
4. Relentlessness. Part of the advantage of that kind of focus is that movies that are tense, scary, or deeply emotional can cast much more of a spell over you when you don't have the option to pause or turn away from the worst, then rewind later to catch it safely out of context.
5. A massive speaker system.
6. Previews.
7. Disruption. A problem with watching movies at home is that it makes the film-watching experience blur into the same experience as surfing cable channels, running a Netflix comedy show in the background while you do dishes, or half-assedly watching an Adventure Time marathon while stoned.
8. Alone time. Going to the movies with friends or your significant other can be a cherished pastime, especially when you're surrounded by an excited audience.
9. 32 ounces of cola in the dark.
10. Bragging rights.

Google

Teenagers Think Google is Cool, Study By Google Finds (theguardian.com) 70

Today's teenagers think Google and Google brands are cool, research funded by Google has found. From a report: Google published "It's Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool", a "magazine" compiling the results of its research into Generation Z, characterised as those aged from 13 to 17. The Google-funded research found Generation Z relied on brands to "shape their world," and that Google was the third-most cool. Cool was defined by the researchers as "unique, impressive, interesting, amazing, or awesome." YouTube, which Google owns, came out at number one ahead of Netflix. Google's web browser Chrome placed tenth, in front of Nike.
Movies

Netflix Now Lets You Download Videos Onto Your PC (pcworld.com) 60

Netflix now offers offline streaming via its Windows 10 PC application, meaning you'll have even more options wherever you're stuck without Internet access. From a report: Netflix added the offline viewing options as part of the most recent update to the Netflix app on Windows 10. Because the Windows Store doesn't show you what version of the Netflix app you're using, just make sure you check for updates using the large blue button in the upper-right corner of the Windows Store app to receive the latest version. You won't need the Creators Update to take advantage of the new feature, either. When you open the app, Netflix will show you a large splash screen that advertises the new "download and go" capability. Unfortunately, if you click the Find me something to download button, the Netflix app doesn't currently display a list of downloadable titles; you'll have to hunt them down yourself. Netflix introduced the same capability on iOS and Android late last year. It's a bold move by Netflix to bring this feature to desktop. There is always the risk of someone finding out a way to break the DRM and easily distribute the files.
Television

Will Streaming Media Lead To A Massive Writer's Strike? (latimes.com) 316

"A decade ago, Hollywood writers brought the entertainment industry to a standstill when they walked off the job for three months in a dispute over pay for movies and TV shows distributed online," writes the Los Angeles Times. But they're reporting that it may happen again, with the Writers Guild of America now seeking a strike authorization vote from its members. Streaming services like Netflix and Amazon have transformed Hollywood and contributed to an unprecedented number of quality series being produced -- a phenomenon often described as the new Golden Age of TV. But times haven't been golden for many writers for whom more is now less. Shorter seasons are the new norm, with many series consisting of 10 or fewer episodes on cable and streaming -- less than half the length of traditional seasons on network shows. That has put writers in a financial crunch since many have exclusivity clauses that prevent them from working on multiple shows per season...

"It's getting more and more difficult to make a living as a writer," said John Bowman, a TV writer-producer, and former head of the WGA negotiating committee. Studios are equally dug in as more customers cut the cable cord in favor of streaming options. They're also grappling with a dramatic fall-off in once-lucrative DVD sales and a flattening of attendance at the multiplex. They are releasing fewer titles a year, meaning fewer opportunities for screenwriters... Complicating matters is a lack of transparency. Streaming services operate on subscription models and don't release viewer data, making it difficult to devise a formula for residuals (fees for reruns).

Amazon is a member of the studio alliance, while Netflix "is expected to sign on to an eventual contract." (Though streaming also seems to be hurting the popularity of reruns, which is also reducing the residuals writers receive.) But underscoring the impact of online media, Slashdot reader JustAnotherOldGuy asks, "with all the alternative content available, does anyone care...? Would the writer's strike have any serious impact on your life?"
Facebook

Telcos Gear Up To Fight Facebook and Google Over How You Log Into Websites (mashable.com) 50

Mashable has an interesting article that talks about the penetration of "social authentication" services: There are two ways to log in on websites: try to recall the email address and password you registered with -- or simply hit the "Facebook Login" button. The convenience of the latter underscores the popularity of social authentication options. You'll see Facebook and Google login buttons on popular sites including Netflix, Uber, Spotify, Imgur and Linkedin, just to name some. Facebook itself estimates that some 350 million people log into a new app or site with their Facebook credentials every month. Olga Kuznetsova, Engineering Manager at Facebook told us that the Facebook Login button ranks in the top three of consumer account creation and sign-in preferences worldwide. More than 85 of the top 100 apps in the U.S. market use Facebook's Login gateway as a login, she added. For years, Google and Facebook have assumed control over the social authentication space, the article adds, citing numbers from companies and analysts. But interestingly, telecom operators are prepping to fight for a slice of the space. So-called mobile identity is one of several projects being developed in the industry to reinforce the position of network operators, which have already suffered an erosion of their traditional communications businesses by the rise of large US technology groups such as Facebook and Google, analysts say. The article adds: Mobile Connect is an authentication solution that the GSMA, the global telecoms industry trade organisation, has been working on for over three years. Through Mobile Connect, GSMA is offering users a much more convenient and "more secure" sign-in option, Jaikishan Rajaraman, global head of technology at GSMA said. The authentication service only requires users to enter their phone number when signing in. There is no password box. When a customer enters her phone number, her carrier (telecom operator, in this case) vouches for her identity. Incredibly, over 42 operators in 22 nations are on-board with Mobile Connect, and the service is already live to over 3.1 billion people. The article adds that GSMA is in talks with governments to add Mobile Connect on their websites and apps. Interestingly, banks, that have long resisted the idea of having Google's and Facebook's authentication service, are also showing interesting.
Television

Christopher Nolan and Sofia Coppola Urge Fans To Watch Films in Cinemas, Not On Netflix (theguardian.com) 360

Christopher Nolan and Sofia Coppola have urged audiences to see their films in the cinema at a time when the movie industry is reckoning with the growing popularity of video on demand and streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon. From a report: Presenting their forthcoming films at CinemaCon, the annual convention organised by the National Association of Theatre Owners, the directors said that they hoped fans opted to watch them at movie theatres, where they were "meant to be seen." Nolan made his comments during a presentation of his second world war drama Dunkirk, at which he previewed footage from the film. "This is a story that needs to carry you through the suspenseful situation, and make you feel like you are there, and the only way to do that is through theatrical distribution," Nolan told the audience. "I am depending and relying on all of you to try to present this film in the best way possible." Coppola echoed Nolan's comments during a Focus Features presentation for The Beguiled, a remake of the Clint Eastwood civil war drama starring Colin Farrell and Nicole Kidman.
Businesses

Enemy Number One is Netflix: The Monster That's Eating Hollywood (business-standard.com) 312

From a WSJ report: Tara Flynn, a rising star at a TV production unit of 21st Century Fox, walked into her boss's office last August and told him she was quitting and joining streaming-video giant Netflix Inc. The news was not well-received. "Netflix is public enemy No. 1," said Bert Salke, the head of Fox 21 Television Studios, where Ms. Flynn was a vice president, according to a Netflix legal filing. When Netflix finalized Ms. Flynn's hire a few weeks later, Fox sued, accusing it of a "brazen campaign" to poach Fox executives. In response, Netflix argued Fox's contracts are "unlawful and unenforceable." The ongoing legal battle is just one sign of the escalating tensions between Netflix and Hollywood as the streaming-video company moves from being an upstart dabbling in original programming to a big-spending entertainment powerhouse that will produce more than 70 shows this year. It is expanding into new genres such as children's fare, reality TV and stand-up comedy specials -- including a $40 million deal for two shows by Chris Rock. The shift has unnerved some TV networks that had become used to Netflix's original content being focused on scripted dramas and sitcoms. Netflix's spending on original and acquired programming this year is expected to be more than $6 billion, up from $5 billion last year, more than double what Time Warner Inc.'s HBO spends and five times as much as 21st Century Fox's FX or CBS Corp.'s Showtime.
Television

AMC Plans Ad-Free Streaming Service (fortune.com) 40

An anonymous reader shares a Fortune report: AMC Networks, whose shows include The Walking Dead, is planning to launch a commercial-free online video streaming service aimed at millennial TV subscribers, two sources familiar with the situation told Reuters this week. Unlike standalone streaming options from Time Warner's HBO and from CBS, AMC's would be exclusively available to consumers who subscribe to a cable TV package. AMC is doing this, the sources said, as a way to support the traditional cable television industry at a time when many younger consumers are increasingly cutting the cord. AMC is discussing featuring digital-only spinoff shows of its existing programs like The Walking Dead and is considering pricing between $4.99 to $6.99 a month, according to the sources, who cautioned final details are still being worked out.
DRM

W3C Erects DRM As Web Standard (theregister.co.uk) 260

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally put forward highly controversial digital rights management as a new web standard. "Dubbed Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), this anti-piracy mechanism was crafted by engineers from Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, and has been in development for some time," reports The Register. "The DRM is supposed to thwart copyright infringement by stopping people from ripping video and other content from encrypted high-quality streams." From the report: The latest draft was published last week and formally put forward as a proposed standard soon after. Under W3C rules, a decision over whether to officially adopt EME will depend on a poll of its members. That survey was sent out yesterday and member organizations, who pay an annual fee that varies from $2,250 for the smallest non-profits to $77,000 for larger corporations, will have until April 19 to register their opinions. If EME gets the consortium's rubber stamp of approval, it will lock down the standard for web browsers and video streamers to implement and roll out. The proposed standard is expected to succeed, especially after web founder and W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee personally endorsed the measure, arguing that the standard simply reflects modern realities and would allow for greater interoperability and improve online privacy. But EME still faces considerable opposition. One of its most persistent vocal opponents, Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that EME "would give corporations the new right to sue people who engaged in legal activity." He is referring to the most recent controversy where the W3C has tried to strike a balance between legitimate security researchers investigating vulnerabilities in digital rights management software, and hackers trying to circumvent content protection. The W3C notes that the EME specification includes sections on security and privacy, but concedes "the lack of consensus to protect security researchers remains an issue." Its proposed solution remains "establishing best practices for responsible vulnerability disclosure." It also notes that issues of accessibility were ruled to be outside the scope of the EME, although there is an entire webpage dedicated to those issues and finding solutions to them.
Firefox

Firefox for Linux is Now Netflix Compatible (betanews.com) 71

Brian Fagioli, writing for BetaNews: For a while, Netflix was not available for traditional Linux-based operating systems, meaning users were unable to enjoy the popular streaming service without booting into Windows. This was due to the company's reliance on Microsoft Silverlight. Since then, Netflix adopted HTML5, and it made Google Chrome and Chromium for Linux capable of playing the videos. Unfortunately, Firefox -- the open source browser choice for many Linux users -- was not compatible. Today this changes, however, as Mozilla's offering is now compatible with Netflix!
Communications

Netflix Replacing Star Ratings With Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down (variety.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Variety: Get ready to say goodbye to star ratings on Netflix: The company is getting ready to replace stars with Pandora-like thumbs ups and thumbs downs in the coming weeks. Previously-given star rating will still be used to personalize the profiles of Netflix users, but the stars are disappearing from the interface altogether. Netflix VP of Product Todd Yellin told journalists on Thursday during a press briefing at the company's headquarters in Los Gatos, Calif., that the company had tested the new thumbs up and down ratings with hundred of thousands of members in 2016. "We are addicted to the methodology of A/B testing," Yellin said. The result was that thumbs got 200% more ratings than the traditional star-rating feature. Netflix is also introducing a new percent-match feature that shows how good of a match any given show or movie is for an individual subscriber. For example, a show that should close to perfectly fit a user's taste may get a 98% match. Shows that have less than a 50% match won't display a match-rating, however.

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