T-Mobile ONE Family Plans Will Include Free Netflix Subscriptions Starting September 12

T-Mobile today announced that its T-Mobile ONE family plans will come with free Netflix subscriptions beginning September 12, allowing plan members to stream Netflix content at no additional monthly charge. To qualify, users will need two or more paid voice lines on a T-Mobile ONE family plan, and if customers already pay for a Netflix subscription, the un-carrier will cover the cost of the standard price: "meaning you’ll save nearly $120 every year."


This means that users who take advantage of the offer will get Netflix's $9.99/month, 2-screen subscription plan at no additional cost.

The company is calling the new addition "Netflix On Us," and described it as a way for T-Mobile to tackle "one of the biggest customer pain points" in mobile networking contracts, which is bigger bundles at increased prices. T-Mobile said that while other carrier bundles are about including some features users want and some they don't, with the end goal of increased monthly prices, Netflix On Us adds a service that most T-Mobile customers already use at no extra cost.
“The future of mobile entertainment is not about bolting a satellite dish to the side of your house or resuscitating faded 90s dotcoms. The future is mobile, over-the-top and unlimited,” said John Legere, president and CEO of T-Mobile. “While the carriers spend billions on their franken-strategies to cobble together carrier–cable–content mashups, the Un-carrier just leapfrogged them all by partnering with the best and giving it to customers at no extra charge. Because that’s what we always do. Give more to you without asking more from you.”

“This is the right move at the right time — for all the right reasons,” said Reed Hastings, co-founder and CEO of Netflix. “More and more fans are bingeing on mobile, so we’re bringing together Netflix’s award-winning TV shows and movies with T-Mobile’s award-winning, unlimited network.”
T-Mobile ONE customers with unlimited everything can also now add Netflix On Us, as well as customers with free lines from T-Mobile's recent "line-on-us" deals. To celebrate the new partnership, T-Mobile is launching a Twitter "meme-a-thon" tomorrow, September 7, where users will be able to enter to win smartphones, Netflix and T-Mobile swag, and BingeBoxes filled with "bingeing essentials" by responding to the company's Twitter account with Netflix show quotes, GIFs, and memes.


For more information about Netflix On Us, visit T-Mobile's website right here.


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Netflix to Spend $7 Billion on Original Programming Next Year

Hot on the heels of news that Apple has set aside $1 billion for original TV programming over the next year, Netflix revealed on Wednesday that it will spend seven times that amount in 2018.

In a new interview with Variety, Netflix's chief content officer Ted Sarandos quoted the number of $7 billion, which is up from more than $6 billion in 2017 and $5 billion in 2016. The vast majority of Netflix's budget is spent on licensed content, but the company is working towards balancing that out with more in-house content over the next couple of years, Sarandos said.

Some analysts and industry insiders are skeptical of the company's spending habits, arguing its stock is overinflated (it's soared to more than $170 a share, up from around $50 in early 2014, adjusted for a 2015 stock split). "We're not spending money we don't have," Sarandos counters. "We're spending revenue." The company reports its debt load is $4.8 billion, with an additional $15.7 billion in long-term content commitments with studios. "We have one of the low debt levels in the industry," insists Sarandos.
Using its budget, Netflix has produced some successful regional TV series such as the German show "Dark". The company hopes to increase that number to up to 100 series in the next couple of years. Netflix is also continuing to push into reality TV programming, with 50 unscripted shows coming to the streaming service next year. Feature films are already on the company's radar, with movies such as War Machine and Sandy Wexler having already debuted, and Bright starring Will Smith set for release in December.

For its part, Apple is said to be planning to procure and produce up to 10 original TV shows over the next year as it seeks to make up ground on services such as Netflix and Amazon. The $1 billion budget figure is about half of what Time Warner's HBO spent on content last year and around the same amount as Amazon spent in 2013, after it announced its own move into original programming. Apple has already kicked off its original programming schedule with "Planet of the Apps" and "Carpool Karaoke", although both shows have come in for criticism from reviewers.

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Disney to Pull Movies From Netflix, Launch New Streaming Services

Disney plans to pull all of its movies from Netflix as it prepares to launch its own streaming services, the company said in its latest earnings report (via CNBC.)

Starting in early 2018, Disney will launch an ESPN video streaming service that will feature approximately 10,000 MLB, NHL, MLS, collegiate, and tennis sporting events every year.

Then, in 2019, Disney will launch a Disney-branded direct-to-consumer streaming service that offers Disney content.


It's not clear when Disney plans to remove its content from Netflix, but in 2012, the two companies inked a deal that saw Netflix getting exclusive access to Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm, and Pixar films. Currently, there are dozens of Disney movies available on Netflix, like The Chronicles of Narnia, Moana, Zootopia, Finding Dory, The Jungle Book, Pirates of the Caribbean, and more.

The deal, though initiated in 2012, didn't fully go into effect until 2016, so Netflix has only had access to a wide range of Disney content for under a year.

With its huge range of content, Disney stands to become a major competitor to existing streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, and for Apple, this essentially means that if the company ever does manage to launch a streaming service, it may not be able to include any Disney content.

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China to Get Netflix Originals in Content Deal With Local Streaming Service

Netflix has signed a licensing deal with a Beijing-based video platform in order to avoid regulatory restrictions and get its content into China's huge entertainment market (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The streaming giant announced the news of its content agreement with iQiyi on Tuesday at the APOS industry conference in Bali, Indonesia.

"China is an important market for obvious reasons; it's also a challenging market for obvious reasons," said Robert Roy, Netflix's vice president of content acquisition. "Right now what we will do is look to license content into China. We closed a deal with iQiyi, which is exciting." 

"For us, it does a couple of things," Roy added. "It gets our content distribution into the territory and builds awareness of the Netflix brand and Netflix content."
A subsidiary of Chinese giant Baidu, iQiyi is currently switching from an advertising-supported streaming service to a subscription model in the same vein as Netflix. The subsidiary reportedly commands the largest customer base and content portfolio in China, however it has been looking to broaden its appeal as rivals like Tencent Video and Youku Tudou compete for viewers in the country's market.

It is understood that Netflix will make some of its upcoming original content available on iQiyi at the same time as it appears in other Netflix-serving countries, but further details on which shows would be included in the deal were not forthcoming.

Both Amazon and Netflix have been unable to enter China's market because of regulatory hurdles, although Netflix's House of Cards briefly achieved viral status in China thanks to a deal with local service Sohu. The show was apparently even known to Chinese president Xi Jinping, but it was later withdrawn from local streaming services by regulators.

Last year, Apple faced its own issues with Chinese state regulators regarding a controversial independent movie which led to the shut down of iTunes and iBooks in the country.

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Netflix Apps Will Today Begin Ditching Star-Based Rating System for Thumbs

Netflix has announced that users will today begin noticing its new thumbs-up and thumbs-down rating system as it appears across various apps and on desktop computers, following a reveal earlier in March that the streaming company was planning to ditch its 5-star rating system.

In the previous system, users had to choose between 1 and 5 stars to determine how much they liked a show, and using that data Netflix displayed the same information back at them for titles they have yet to watch. So for a new TV show, Netflix might suggest it as a 4-star title, meaning it's something the user should enjoy. This system confused many users over the years, who believed that the stars were a community aggregate of a show's overall quality, not a personal recommendation system tailored for each user.


That'll begin changing today with thumbs, which will ask each user to decide simply whether they want to give a TV show or movie they've watched a thumbs-up or thumbs-down, which Netflix compares to dating apps like Tinder in a new promotional video also debuting today.
We are retiring our five-star rating system and replacing it with a simpler and more intuitive thumbs-up and thumbs-down. A thumbs-up tells Netflix that you like something and want to see similar suggestions. A thumbs-down lets us know you aren’t interested in watching that title and we should stop suggesting it to you. You can still search for it, but we’ve heard what you were trying to tell us -- you aren’t a fan -- and it will no longer show up on your homepage.

In either case, using thumbs helps us learn even more about your unique tastes so we can do a better job suggesting stories we think you’ll love.
With this data, users will also begin seeing far simpler percentage numbers accompanying unseen titles they might be interested in. Called a "% Match score," Netflix said that this is a prediction of what its algorithm thinks each user might enjoy watching based on what they've previously given a thumbs-up or thumbs-down. So a show they might be particularly interested in would have a "95% Match," for example.


Netflix wasn't clear on when the new rating system would begin appearing across its devices, like iOS and tvOS, but it's likely to debut on Netflix.com ahead of the company's suite of companion apps.

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Netflix to Replace Star Ratings With Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down

Netflix announced yesterday that it will replace star-based user reviews in its content library with binary thumbs up and thumbs down ratings over the coming weeks.

Previous star ratings given by users will be used to personalize their Netflix profiles, but the ability to rate a TV series or movie by awarding stars is set to disappear altogether, according to Variety.

Image via Variety
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.
According to Netflix, at one point subscribers had awarded over 10 billion 5-star ratings and more than half of all members had rated more than 50 titles. However, the company eventually concluded that star ratings had become less relevant, with some users giving documentaries 5 stars and silly movies just 3 stars, even though they would watch the silly movies more often than the highly rated documentaries.

"We made ratings less important because the implicit signal of your behavior is more important," Yellin told journalists.

In addition to the binary rating scheme, Netflix is also bringing a new percent-match feature to its interface that shows how good a match any given show or movie is for an individual subscriber. If a movie or TV show fits very closely with a user's taste, it may get a high percentage match, although shows with less than a 50 percent match won't show a match rating.

Netflix said the changes will roll out globally within the next month or so.

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Netflix Planning to Stream Mobile HDR Content Ahead of ‘iPhone 8’

Netflix is planning to offer HDR quality mobile content for viewing on supporting devices because of an increasing mobile subscriber base and the company's belief that the format will eventually be universally adopted on mobile platforms.

The comments were made yesterday by Netflix executive Neil Hunt during a briefing with journalists, as part of a two-day event at Dolby Laboratories and Netflix headquarters in San Francisco. Hunt made the remarks as the two companies prepare to launch new Netflix series Iron Fist, which is being shot natively in HDR.

HDR stands for high dynamic range, meaning a display supporting the standard is capable of reproducing a wider and richer range of colors, brighter whites, and deeper blacks. HDR content is already available on Netflix and Amazon Video, but only for streaming to televisions that support the standard. However, Hunt and Dolby executives told The Verge that HDR is about to make the leap from big-screen to mobile, with Netflix aiming to be at the forefront of a global transition.


It's been about a year since Netflix became available globally — with the exception of a few markets, including China, and since then it has seen mobile usage soar. In established markets like the US and Canada, most Netflix watching still happens on TVs, Hunt said; but in some Asian countries, especially India, "mobile screens are the majority consumption device."
Both Netflix and Amazon are said to be gearing up to stream HDR content on mobile devices, possibly as early as April this year, although a specific date from either company has yet to be confirmed. Samsung's recently announced Tab 3 with AMOLED display is the first tablet to support videos with greater dynamic range, while the LG G6 is the first phone to support both HDR10 (the 10-bit open standard) and Dolby Vision HDR.

Apple is expected to announce new iPad models soon, possibly as early as next week, but apart from plenty of speculation regarding screen sizes, no rumors have mentioned the display technology that could feature. The same can't be said for Apple's rumored "iPhone 8", which will reportedly have a Samsung-supplied OLED display, making it more likely to support the HDR10 standard.

In addition to the mobile HDR announcement, Netflix said it was considering the idea of streaming mobile-specific cuts of its original movies and TV shows.
"It's not inconceivable that you could take a master [copy] and make a different cut for mobile," Hunt said. To date, Netflix hasn't been delivering different cuts for different viewing platforms, Hunt said, but "it's something we will explore over the next few years."
According to The Verge, the idea would be to create a version of the content with scenes or shots that are more easily visible or immersive on a mobile phone, given that certain shots can be hard to see or can appear diminished on a relatively small phone screen.

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Amazon and Netflix Celebrate First Oscar Wins For Streaming Services

Amazon and Netflix yesterday collected the first Academy Awards for streaming services, sharing four gold statuettes between them at this year's Oscars.

Amazon Studios bagged a Best Actor trophy for Casey Affleck's portrayal of a grieving man in "Manchester by the Sea". Bought by Amazon for $10 million at the Sundance film festival, the movie also won Best Original Screenplay. It has earned $46.8 million at domestic theaters, and is set to appear later this year on Amazon's Prime Video service.

Scene from "Manchester by the Sea", courtesy K Period Media

Amazon also gained another accolade for Best Foreign Language Film with Iranian drama "The Salesman," which the company distributed in the United States and Canada.

Netflix won Best Documentary in the short-subject category for 40-minute film "The White Helmets", which followed volunteer rescue workers in war-torn Syria. The Netflix Original was directed by Orlando von Einsiedel.

According to one former Wall Street analyst, Apple's first Academy Award is not too far away either. Venture capitalist and tech ponderer Gene Munster predicted on Friday that Apple will win an Oscar in five years.

"We think Apple will win an Oscar in the next five years," Munster wrote in a research note issued by his company, Loup Ventures. "That's how long it will take for Apple to scale its original content spend from less than $200 million today to $5-7 billion."

According to Munster, Apple's moves towards making original content to drive user engagement with its ecosystem will turn increasingly towards movies and TV series, as it aims to boost revenues to its Services division, which includes Apple Music and iTunes.

Apple has already unveiled plans to launch two unscripted series on Apple Music, "Planet of the Apps", which shares a format similar to talent-based reality shows The Voice, and "Carpool Karaoke", based on the popular James Corden segment from The Late Late Show. In addition, Apple is also working on "Vital Signs", a dark semi-autobiographical drama starring Dr. Dre, which will also be used to promote Apple Music.


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Netflix Beats Subscription Rate Predictions By One Third As Shares Reach All-Time High

netflixNetflix added over a third more subscribers than expected in the last quarter of 2016, streaming video service revealed yesterday. According to its latest Q4 letter to shareholders, Netflix signed up 7.1 million new subscribers worldwide, almost two million more than analysts expected, despite price raises during the quarter.

The company put the boost down to the success of original shows like season 3 of Black Mirror and British drama The Crown which have garnered strong global followings. Notably, the company said millions of U.S. subscribers had tuned in to watch dubbed and subtitled versions of Brazilian series 3%, making it the first Portuguese-language TV show to travel meaningfully beyond Latin America and Portugal.
Internet video is a global phenomenon. Amazon Prime Video expanded recently to match our territory footprint, while YouTube remains far larger than either of us in terms of global video enjoyment minutes. Video consumption is growing on Facebook, and Apple is rumored to be adding video to its music service.

...The BBC has become the first major linear network to announce plans to go binge-first with new seasons, favoring internet over linear viewers. We presume HBO is not far behind the BBC. In short, it’s becoming an internet TV world, which presents both challenges and opportunities for Netflix as we strive to earn screen time.
Netflix said it planned to release more than 1,000 hours of original programming this year, up from 600 hours in 2016. It also said it had recently signed a deal with comedian Jerry Seinfeld to stream Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee as well as two new stand-up specials and other shows he will develop.

Netflix announced earnings of 15 cents per share and revenue of $2.48 billion, beating Wall Street expectations of earnings at 13 cents per share. Netflix rose as much as 8.2 percent in after-hours trading following the earnings report, adding nearly $5 billion to the company's stock market value.

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Netflix will now show you video previews to help cure your indecision

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We’ve all been there, scrolling through Netflix’s many options but entirely unable to settle on anything.

Netflix thinks some video will help you decide.

The streaming video giant is introducing video previews to its user interface. The video below shows how navigating to “Stranger Things” brings up a brief look at the show. 

“As we launch more than 1,000 hours of original content next year, we know we have less than 90 seconds to capture someone’s attention and get them excited about a title — that’s why we’re introducing video previews into the TV browsing experience,” Netflix product leads Stephen Garcia and Chris Jaffe wrote in a blog postRead more…

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