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The year is young, but Netflix has managed to find its way to the news headlines on more than one occasion. It doesn’t seem that long ago that the media provider was a simple disc-by-mail operation. Despite rattling some subscribers by splitting fees associated with their streaming and mail services, Netflix is quickly becoming the absolute top destination media service with exclusive streaming rights and original content. Here’s a quick look at some of the news surrounding Netflix’s growing national influence.


Changing of the Guard
In January, The NPD Group published a new study that found video-on-demand services like Netflix are enjoying rising subscription bases while old school premium channels like HBO and Showtime are experiencing declines. The study covered an 18 month period from 2012 through 2013, and showed that video-on-demand had grown 23 percent while premium channels had shrunk 38 percent. Interestingly, The NPD Group remarked that video-on-demand services are striving to become their own unique channels, however they are careful to note that their data did not necessarily indicate that Netflix and its competitors are replacing the HBO’s of the world.

Despite The NPD Group’s qualifications in their conclusions, it’s hard not to assume that premium cable movie channels aren’t feeling the squeeze from Netflix. Its subscriber base has surpassed that of HBO’s in the United States, and its original programing is beginning to turn quite a few heads.

New Pricing...Again?
As we mentioned, Netflix’s subscriber base was none to happy when the company decided to announce a change of pricing for services several years ago; steady yourself and prepare for another wave of groans. In late January, a letter sent to shareholders outlined a possible plan for tiered pricing for Netflix’s streaming services. Netflix currently has two streaming packages, priced at $8 and $12 a month, with the latter allowing for more simultaneous streams. Netflix says it has been beta testing new pricing tiers that would cover single and multiple streaming options along with hi-def and standard definition resolutions. Of course 4K demand is looming on the horizon, but Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings says that Netflix isn’t factoring 4K into its pricing for 2014. Netflix also indicates that they are considering grandfathering current subscribers, allowing them to keep their existing plans while new members will likely face a tiered choice.


Making Sure Delivery is Guaranteed, Fast and Free
Consider this: according to All Things D, Netflix accounts for almost a third of all internet traffic entering homes on any given night in the United States. With that in mind, it’s easy to understand why Netflix is concerned that Internet Service Providers (ISPs) might look for ways to squeeze the internet hog for a few extra pennies. Last month Netflix took a few swings at ISPs and a federal appeals court’s decision to end internet neutrality rules. Better explained, Netflix wants to make sure that the information highways from their servers to your home remain open and free, avoiding a situation where ISPs can limit Netflix access or charge consumers extra for Netflix content. Netflix is also concerned that ISPs may force Netflix to pay fees to keep providers from impeding Netflix feeds. The situation is simple, Netflix is reliant on companies (such as Verizon) to provide a pathway for their service. They want to keep it that way, especially if ISPs decide to create their own video-on-demand services. Stay tuned.

More Original Content, Expansion
Yesterday, Netflix sent a letter to shareholders to announce it is taking on roughly $400 million in new debt. The reason? They need funds to create more original content and expand further into untapped European markets. According to Mashable.com, Netflix is slated to stream 9 original series during 2014 including new shows from the creators of the Matrix trilogy and Babylon 5 and a joint superhero effort with Marvel. This all costs significant amounts of cash, and Netflix is readying its war chest to aggressively expand.

Image Credit: Netflix
 

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Hopefully some of the new series fire up soon and of course are good :). Thanks for the interesting info.
 

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Re: Early Year Wrap-Up: Netfilx News

We have love netflix but it all boils down to programming content. Keep adding the stuff we want to see and they will be successful.
 

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Re: Early Year Wrap-Up: Netfilx News

Addicted to my netflix but the tier sounds like , it sounds like a way to charge more for HD when we already get HD for 8$ Making it an option and charging more for it sounds like a marketing ploy to just raise prices. I could possibly understand more for 4k streaming but at that rate you probably don't care too much about your netflix bill cause your cable/net bill is probably pretty high.
 

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Re: Early Year Wrap-Up: Netfilx News

How will they ever stream 4K? Compression will have to be way too much, I would think.
They are going to use the new High Efficiency Video Coding standard, or HEVC. It's said to be 40-45% more efficient as compared to MPEG-4 AVC (otherwise known as H.264). Under similar bit rates, HEVC is supposed to deliver a much sharper picture.

Netflix ran a demo of 4K streaming at 11 and 15mbps at CES... which is what most homes can achieve...multiple news outlets said the picture quality was excellent.
 

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Re: Early Year Wrap-Up: Netfilx News

Interesting, do you think the isp's will win out on this one ?
I ask because when I recently cancelled all cable viewing channels, the one thing they asked was do I use Netflx. Did not expect that question, and I did not admit to using an AppleTv box as well, they did not ask.

At this time, and maybe it is my delivery, Netflix advertises HD but really does not reliably provide that service. When viewing Netflix through my AppleTv, the image is not much better if at all and it does fade in and out as the program runs. Watching content Not related to Netflix via the AppleTv, such as movies etc, the picture and sound are very good quality and that quality stays beginning of the movie to the end.
 

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Interesting, do you think the isp's will win out on this one ? I ask because when I recently cancelled all cable viewing channels, the one thing they asked was do I use Netflx. Did not expect that question, and I did not admit to using an AppleTv box as well, they did not ask. At this time, and maybe it is my delivery, Netflix advertises HD but really does not reliably provide that service. When viewing Netflix through my AppleTv, the image is not much better if at all and it does fade in and out as the program runs. Watching content Not related to Netflix via the AppleTv, such as movies etc, the picture and sound are very good quality and that quality stays beginning of the movie to the end.
I've noticed the same thing myself. Movies for rent or purchase through iTunes in AppleTv look really good aside from sometimes the occasional image shift on some movies. It's very minor though and the picture does look very good. Compared to Netflix and Hulu, AppleTv's specific content just looks better. It's weird considering they are using the same exact connection, same download speeds etc.....even running through the same device. I guess that's what you get when you pay $5.99/movie on AppleTv as opposed to $8/month like netflix. Less compression? I don't know
 

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Re: Early Year Wrap-Up: Netfilx News

The ones you rent/buy from apple do they download first before you watch them instead of streaming or at least have you download a chunk first? Thought that might contribute to the better quality maybe.

netflix is supposed to adapt its quality to your internet connection speeds. I have noticed at different places like at a friends or my mom which has a slower connection the quality decreases.
 

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The ones you rent/buy from apple do they download first before you watch them instead of streaming or at least have you download a chunk first? Thought that might contribute to the better quality maybe. netflix is supposed to adapt its quality to your internet connection speeds. I have noticed at different places like at a friends or my mom which has a slower connection the quality decreases.
There is a slight delay with a loading image for 2-5 Seconds before the movie starts but it definitely does not download the whole movie. Then again my download speeds are 50mbps so it happens pretty fast and I don't know how much it does in fact download before it plays. You have a good point though cause I'm sure netflix quality is dictated by the download speeds in order to play instantly where as with AppleTv, if your speeds are slow, it might have a longer delay before you can watch a movie.
 

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I have Netflix and my ISP is Verizon FIOS. I had the base tier FIOS which is 15/5 Mbps. I was noticing that most of the Netflix streams seemed to be rather low quality. I call Netflix tech support and they checked and indicated that the average streaming speed was less than 1 Mbps. Of course they pointed to Verizon. I call Verizon and they pointed to Netflix.

I ran several speed tests off the internet and it seemed like I was getting the speeds I should have been getting. Verizon was offering a promotion one month free upgrade to 50/25 Mbps. I tried that for about three weeks with little change in quality or streaming speeds. So I went back to my old 15/5 Mbps service.

I talked with a Netflix tech guy about this and he stated that ISPs optimize their equipment and setup for the various internet speed tests. That way a subscriber can't complain about the service. I work for an IT related company, so one Sunday when no one was on the company servers, I downloaded a large file from the company server. Guess what? Less than 4 Mbps average download speed. So I am going to say that my ISP does not have the backbone infrastructure to support the service I am purchasing.
 

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That is really of your ISP. I got fios over comcast cable at my old place. It was so much more reliable we had so much horrible with comcast. I had to call there tech support a few times and they had to come out a few times. Loved the fios but didn't notice a huge difference but it was notable we had the base 15/5 package.

Now I live in an apartment building and comcast is the only option. I pay for the 5 connection which they recommend for netflix streaming. It's not horrible but sometimes you can tell some frames don't seem that good of quality in bits for some reason then it becomes clearer again. Comparing it to the dvds in the mail though you notice qite a difference. It's like comparing cd quality to mp3 quality you loose something along the way. So for action films like star trek or transformers I get the dvd's. For comedies or most other things I just stream it.
 

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here in Wyoming we have mediastream 25mb and during the day Netflix works great but when it's late in the evening not so much we get dropouts and the pitcher gets granny , it gets bottlenecked from all of my Neighbors getting online and there kids gaming I'm thinking. I too tried calling Netfix and mediastream and they just blame each other for my troubles
 

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I also have to mention since the overturning of Net Neutrality rules my Netflix streaming has gotten worse and it so happens that my IPS is through my cable company , I find this interesting but it could be just coincidence
 
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