Wednesday, March 30, 2011

GLEE AVAILABLE TO WATCH INSTANTLY

Hi, Ted Sarandos, Chief Content Officer, here. Hey, Gleeks (and fans of other great TV programs in the U.S.), this is for you: the entire first season of “Glee” --with every song and dance and all the drama from the halls of McKinley High -- will be available starting tomorrow to watch instantly streaming from Netflix. Glee’s availability is part of an announcement we made today with Twentieth Century Fox, which gives Netflix members in the U.S. access to the first season of the pop culture juggernaut “Glee,” and the first two seasons of the cult favorite “Sons of Anarchy.” We’ll also be adding great shows like “Ally McBeal” and “The Wonder Years” to be instantly watched from Netflix at this time. This deal kicks off a multi-year partnership that will have additional seasons added every year. The addition of these shows is an expansion of our deal with Fox that also includes “Prison Break,” “Arrested Development,” X-Files,” “24,” “Buffy The Vampire Slayer,” among others. Gleek On!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Netflix Lowers Data Usage By 2/3 For Members In Canada

This is Neil Hunt, Chief Product Officer, to tell our members in Canada that starting today, watching movies and TV shows streaming from Netflix will use 2/3 less data on average, with minimal impact to video quality.

Now Canadians can watch 30 hours of streaming from Netflix in a month that will consume only 9 GBytes of data, well below most data caps.

We made these changes because many Canadian Internet service providers unfortunately enforce monthly caps on the total amount of data consumed.

In the past, viewing 30 hours of Netflix could consume as much as 70 GBytes, if it was all in HD, and typically about 30 GBytes. While there is some lessening of picture quality with these new settings, the experience continues to be great. If any member wants to change back to higher data usage and video quality, they can do so on the Manage Video Quality page, found under Your Account.

We will continue to test and innovate to improve the Netflix experience without high data use.

Neil

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P.S. Lots of technical details below for those interested.

We've created three settings:
  1. "Good" - The default setting with good picture quality and lowest data use per hour (about 0.3 GBytes/hour)
  2. "Better" - Better picture quality and medium data use per hour (about 0.7 GBytes/hour)
  3. "Best" - Best picture quality and highest date use per hour (generally about 1.0 GBytes/hour - or up to 2.3 GBytes/hour when streaming HD content)
Any member can adjust the settings anytime by visiting the Manage Video Quality page, found under Your Account.

At all settings, Netflix adaptive streaming may choose a lower data rate stream if your connection is lower speed or, in the case of congestion, in order to minimize interruptions.

Also, at all settings, Netflix streams a little bit of additional data as a buffer each time you start a movie or TV show. Frequent starts and stops, or rewind/seek activity, will slightly increase the amount of data Netflix streams to you per hour. In most cases this will amount to less than a few minutes' worth.

The "Good" setting limits video/audio to 625 kbps/64 kbps. With this setting, 30 hours of content would be up to 9 GBytes per month.

The "Better" setting limits video/audio to a maximum of 1300 kbps/192 kpbs. With this setting, 30 hours of content would be less than 20 GBytes per month.

The "Best" setting will use any of the video/audio rates available. Our highest quality files are 4800 kbps (for 1080p HD video) and 384 kbps audio (for 5.1 audio). 30 hours of this highest quality streaming would be less than 67 GBytes. However, only a selection of movies and TV shows are available at these rates, and in many cases, the effective video/audio upper limit for non-HD content is 2200 kbps/192 kbps. At that rate, 30 hours of streaming is less than 31 GBytes.

This is Fenot Tekle from the Netflix Communications team writing to let our members in Canada know that Netflix will be streaming more than 350 movies from Paramount for you to watch instantly. Canadians can now watch popular titles like “Iron Man 2" and "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," and over time, we will add fan favorites like "Titanic" and "The Last Airbender," comedies like “Zoolander” and “Wayne’s World,” and beloved classics like “The African Queen,” “Sabrina” (1954) and “Terms of Endearment.” To learn more, click here.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

House of Cards

Hi, Ted Sarandos, Netflix Chief Content Officer here. We’re delighted to tell you that in late 2012 Netflix will be bringing to our members in the U.S. and Canada exclusively “House of Cards,” the much-anticipated television series and political thriller from Executive Producer David Fincher and starring Kevin Spacey. We’ve committed to at least 26 episodes of the serialized drama, which is based on a BBC mini-series from the 1990s that’s been a favorite of Netflix members. Originally written as a novel by former UK Conservative Party Chief of Staff Michael Dobbs, “House of Cards,” explores the ruthless underside of British politics at the end of the Thatcher era. Reset against the backdrop of modern-day U.S. electoral politics, this new one-hour drama follows Spacey as an ambitious politician with his eye on the top job. Fincher, the Oscar-nominated director of “The Social Network” and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” will direct the pilot written by Beau Willimon (“Farragut North” and the upcoming George Clooney-directed “The Ides of March.” )

The TV shows and movies that you are able to watch instantly are licensed from movie studios, TV networks, distributors and sometimes directly from the producers of the films and TV shows. “House of Cards” is unique, as it is the first exclusive TV series to originate on Netflix. Typically, we license TV shows the season after they run on a broadcast network or cable channel and occasionally, we have episodes from a current season, as is the case with “Saturday Night Live” from NBC, “Spartacus” from Starzplay and “Wizards of Waverly Place” from Disney Channel. In all of these cases, the shows are produced before we bring them to Netflix. “House of Cards” represents a slightly more risky approach; while we aren’t producing the show and don’t own it, we are agreeing to license it before it is successfully produced.

We’ve found the gripping, serialized one-hour drama, such as “Heroes,” “Lost,” “Dexter” and “Weeds,” has become a very important part of the Netflix experience and over the years, we’ve been able to add these shows from many different channels, with the notable exception of HBO. With David Fincher’s unique vision, the incredible acting skills of Oscar winner Kevin Spacey, and a great and timeless story of power, corruption and lies, we think “House of Cards” will become a big hit among Netflix members and thus, represents a manageable risk.

Our goal remains to constantly expand our selection of previous seasons of popular TV shows and we may bring more exclusive series to Netflix in the future, if an opportunity arises that has the key elements a show needs to be successful; great storytelling and great storytellers. We are really excited to be bringing you “House of Cards” and will keep you informed about the premiere date closer to that time.

Monday, March 7, 2011

iPad User Experience Update

Hi, this is Jamie, director of product management. We've recently updated the user experience on our iPad streaming app. The app enables you to instantly watch all the TV shows and movies available for streaming from Netflix right on your iPad or iPhone. With Apple's video out cables, you can even connect your iPad directly to your TV. The app is available for free from the iOS App Store.

The new interface provides quick access to the vast selection of TV shows and movies and makes it easy to continue watching something, even if you started watching on a different device. Recommended titles can be found on the home screen, or you can browse popular genres or search to find titles to watch instantly. This new experience was designed specifically for streaming on touch-based devices.

Members can access the full Netflix website via Mobile Safari at www.netflix.com. From the website, members with DVD plans can manage their DVD Queue. Members can also visit the account area, and even choose TV shows or movies to watch instantly via the Netflix streaming app.