-As the 2015 International CES trade show gets underway in Las Vegas this week, Netflix unveiled its plan to start anointing TVs with its seal of approval, designating certain sets as “Netflix recommended” in the Spring. Though the company has yet to clearly define its standards of approval, one sure-bet certification looks to be faster loading and more accessible user experience. It seems that in the new year the company wants to see more users powering directly on Netflix on their TVs rather than jumping into the service via Roku or other set-tops or game consoles.
Simply put, as Netflix director of corporate communications and technology Cliff Edwards said, “It’s about putting internet television on the same footing as regular TV.” Which means Netflix wants to outpace cable television, or at the very least get on its level importance, just as much as it wants to outbid Hollywood (and judging by the looks of Netflix’s rapidly generating original content and acquisitions, it’s all working).
-Meanwhile, Dish Network revealed SlingTV, a curated bundle of streaming TV channels that, for $20 a month, includes: ESPN and ESPN2 (including live telecasts), TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN, all of which will be available across streaming devices, online and on set-tops such as Roku, Amazon’s Fire TV, Google’s Nexus Player and more. This will launch in the first quarter of 2015, and throughout the year Dish promises to expand SlingTV’s offerings — which, as overall emphasis in TV continues to shift away from the old world of cable boxes, could mean we’ll see content from broadcast networks Fox, ABC, CBS and NBC. (More here.)
-Cable/satellite news channel and NBCUniversal arm CNBC announced that by the end of 2015 it will pull the plug on using Nielsen ratings to measure audience engagement. CNBC will instead partner with financial research provider Cogent Reports which, according to Deadline, “will provide advertisers with targeted consumption metrics against CNBC’s core Business Day audience.” That’s because the channel, in keeping with the times, wants to chase audiences outside the home–because after all, who’s still watching TV in their living room anyway?
–HBO, meanwhile, is stepping on everybody’s toes. Not only will the competitive company soon be offering its older content via streaming service HBO GO, currently exclusive to cable subscribers, a la carte to all (no more stealing your friend’s friend’s parents’ password!), HBO will very soon be invading theaters, too. From January 23-29, HBO will become the first TV network to feature its programming in IMAX theatres, screening two remastered episodes from season four of “Game of Thrones” along with the debut of an exclusive IMAX trailer for season five. The one-week engagement will play upwards of 150 stateside IMAX theaters. So this begs the question: as the film industry continues to get inched out by TV and streaming content, and at a very rapid rate, is this the future role of movie theaters?
Everything that went down at Sony at the tail-end of last year is now beginning to look like a prophecy (of doom? collapse? that “implosion” Steven Spielberg predicted?) that undoubtedly portends some major sea changes ahead.