Netflix's oddly public peering agreement to connect directly with Comcast has, as many expected, been followed closely by a similar deal. What may surprise some is that this arrangement is with Norway's Telenor and not Verizon or AT&T, although the circumstances are remarkably similar. Filter Magazine points out a report from Dagens Næringsliv (Today's Business), a Norwegian industry paper, revealing an arrangement where Netflix is apparently paying rent to place its servers loaded full of movies inside the telecommunication company's datacenter. Telenor spokesman Jørn Bremtun confirmed a commercial agreement to Filter but could not reveal details, although Netflix's OpenConnect proposal suggested a similar arrangement, without payment.
Telenor has recently dropped sharply in Netflix's ISP speed index (sound familiar?), and like the Comcast announcement, this new deal is drawing scrutiny from supporters of the principles of net neutrality. Telenor is held to the standards of net neutrality as set by the Norwegian Post and Telecommunications Authority (PDF), just like Comcast is under the terms of its agreement to purchase NBC. Also just like Comcast, Telenor claims that charging Netflix is not blocked by those standards, since it isn't providing preferential treatment to any particular traffic on the network. Finn Myrstad of The Consumer Council of Norway echoes statements by US consumer rights groups and our post on the topic, pointing out that the secret nature of such deals is inherently troubling. There's still no word on any other similar agreements with US ISPs, but the trend appears to be firmly in motion.
The latest TV show to become a streaming-exclusive on Amazon Prime's video service is the sci-fi series Orphan Black. Like Amazon's recent deal to pick up streaming rights for FX's The Americans, this agreement with BBC America comes just ahead of the show's return for season two. While Amazon attempts to build up its stable of original series (voting on the current pilot season ends soon), collaborating with broadcasters for a financial and exposure push of returning series seems like a worthwhile strategy. Other shows that viewers won't find on Amazon's competitors include Suits, Falling Skies, Downton Abbey, Justified, Workaholics, and Under the Dome, while this summer CBS' Extant joins the pack. Of course, Netflix has an original sci-fi show of its own, Sense8, on the way later this year from the folks behind The Matrix and Babylon 5. Right now though, US viewers can either recap or become introduced to Tatiana Maslany's Clone Club before the season two premiere April 19th.
As if the revival of Carl Sagan's Cosmos couldn't get any more grandiose, tonight's debut has a pretty special guest. President Barack Obama will intro the episode with a pre-recorded message that'll supposedly urge viewers to explore new frontiers -- like space! -- and to imagine what the future could hold. Regardless of what your politics may be, it sounds like it could be pretty inspiring. Now, if the POTUS could just remind the nation to set its DVRs for 9pm ET tonight we'd be all set.
[Image Credit: Pete Souza for the White House]
Source: Digital Journal
When you're the CEO of the second largest video game publisher in the world, people have a tendency to take what you say seriously. Case in point, Electronic Arts' Andrew Wilson recently revealed his company's plans for virtual reality. At a South by Southwest panel, Wilson said that his company is less focused on the technology of VR, and more interested in exactly how people consume it. As he sees it, we interact with games in three different ways: leaning back, leaning in and looking over -- relating to console, PC and mobile gaming, respectively. With VR, he thinks there will be a fourth: getting in. He says that this could happen either via a headset or even a hologram popping up from your living room floor, and he's pushing his team to explore it.
Think of this along the lines of Amazon (hypothetically) announcing that it'd accept Bitcoin for payment and you're on the right track; that there's another major player in the VR space helps validate the medium. While this could all be taken as pie-in-the-sky speculation, the fact that EA is clearly invested in the virtual reality isn't anything to write off -- just look at what the company's done with mobile gaming.
It's a bittersweet day in Austin, Texas, for Aereo. The company's remote DVR service, which allows users to stream or record over-the-air broadcasts, just launched in the city this week against the backdrop of SXSW, making it Aereo's fourth market in the state. But there's a storm cloud hanging over this celebration; a recent legal hiccup with the state of Utah that saw it shut down service in Denver, Colo., and Salt Lake City, Utah. Aereo, however, is no stranger to this courtroom drama. The company's been engaged in a copyright battle with broadcasters that'll either cement it as a content licensee (along the lines of a Netflix), and potentially cripple its business growth, or as a provider of cloud DVR storage. It's a fight Aereo's waging all the way to the Supreme Court and has so far been winning, except for today.
Aereo's streams in Denver and Salt Lake City hung on for a while after the US District Court of Utah granted its opponents a preliminary injunction on February 20th, but today they're shutting off. Yesterday a panel of federal court judges denied Aereo's request to stay the injunction while it appeals, claiming "Aereo has not made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal. Nor has Aereo demonstrated that the other factors weigh in its favor." As a result, the antenna-to-streaming company has informed affected customers service will go dark today at 10am. For now, it's looking forward to the upcoming Supreme Court case to affirm its belief that the service is legal, and issuing a refund for this month's service for anyone living in those two markets. Aereo's hearing is set to take place April 22nd -- check out CEO Chet Kanojia's message to customers after the break.
Source: Salt Lake Tribune
We're live on the ground at South By Southwest (#SXSW for short), the annual event that brings together everyone and anyone who's invested in the interactive arts. Those artists include the minds behind emerging startups (like Twitter was here in 2007), as well as established innovators like Mark Cuban and even Grumpy Cat.
We're already off to a great start: we've seen a man get stunned by the Chaotic Unmanned Personal Intercept Drone and had a chance to punch virtual sharks with the Oculus Rift and Leap Motion. But, there's more to come over the next few days, including riding MarioKart in real life, separate virtual conversations with Edward Snowden and Julian Assange, Shaq and much more.
Here's how to keep up with us at SXSW, after the break.
My Dearest Friends at Engadget,
With this letter I have enclosed a large, slightly frayed chunk of styrofoam that we all thought resembled the prominent "t" in the Engadget logo - you know, the one wearing the cute Wi-Fi hat. We have no use for this item here at Joystiq, so we thought you might hoist it above your reeking desk-beds, or use it in another story about 3D printers.
"This could be a science lesson on the innards of sharks."
Chance Ivey, game design lead for Chaotic Moon's whimsical Oculus Rift demo SharkPunch, was only half-joking when he made that comment to me as I exploded a megalodon with my fist in virtual space. That's because the minigame, which incorporates a visor-mounted Leap Motion controller to let users punch sharks in 3D, actually has firm roots in an educational simulator the Austin, Texas-based company's been developing for prospective clients. Yes, that connection may be hard to swallow at first -- after all, how does a frenzied, and fun, game of shark carnage assist players with learning? The simple answer is that it doesn't, but by no means does that lessen SharkPunch's educational origins in the slightest. %Gallery-slideshow183527%
The last five days were, in a word, bedlam. Newsweek may or may not have found the man who created Bitcoin (which subsequently led to a car chase -- yes, seriously); the head of PlayStation US, Jack Tretton, stepped down after just shy of 20 years; and Apple's finally got an official service for bridging iOS to cars: you'll never guess what it's called (okay, you probably will).
With co-hosts Terrence O'Brien and Joseph Volpe scattered across Austin for SXSW 2014, we're playing "who are these new people?" with two new staffers -- Chris Velazco and John Colucci. All that and more, live at noon ET, just below!
Even though CES 2014 is long gone, some of the stuff announced there is just now starting to become available for purchase. Case in point: Sharp's Q+ lineup (originally known as Quattron+), a series of 2014 AQUOS televisions featuring the latest and greatest, including a revamped SmartCentral platform. But that's not what's interesting here. Instead, it's the Q+ technology, one that Sharp describes as being able to "accept a 4K signal and play it back at near-4K resolution, with an effective resolution of up to 3,840 x 2,160."
The company says this is possible thanks to its Revelation Upscaler, which takes HD content and "optimizes it for the higher resolution screen, so that it's sharper and more vivid." By building Q+ TVs on 1080p panels, Sharp claims it's then capable of pricing these lower than some of its would-be competitors. Now, is that enough to get you to buy into it? If so, you'll have quite a few options to choose from -- they're up for grabs now in 60-, 70- and 80-inch flavors, with prices ranging from $2,500 all the way to a cool $6,000.
If you thought Time Warner Cable was late to the Showtime party, think again. Charter subscribers have been waiting for access since 2011, and now it's finally here. Starting today, customers can join in with the the rest of the cable crowd and stream live (or past) episodes of their favorite Showtime production on its Showtime Anytime app, which is available on iOS, Android, Roku and the web. As long as you have a Showtime subscription, getting your Homeland fix is as easy as signing into the app with your Charter username and password. Additionally, the same programming from Showtime Anytime will be available from Charter.net and the company's TV app in the near future.
Rumors that existing satellite and cable TV providers would launch full internet streaming services have circled for years, but the new agreement between Dish Network and Disney has suddenly stirred the pot. Between a deal that could actually put ESPN on an internet-only TV service, Verizon buying Intel's abandoned OnCue effort plus live TV streaming to Xbox One (pictured above) and Sony's plan for an IPTV package it seems like we'll actually see something arrive in 2014. Reuters reports Verizon and DirecTV are negotiating with content providers for similar access, as Verizon CEO Lowell C. McAdam told investors he would "love to partner with (content providers) to see how we can take FiOS contact mobilely across the country." Meanwhile, Bloomberg's unnamed sources suggest a Dish Network internet TV service could launch for around $20 - $30 per month once enough content deals are in place.
Or at least, he will have done so come April 1st, no foolin'. Sony just announced that the long time SCEA executive will be making way for his replacement Shawn Layden, current EVP and COO of Sony Network Entertainment International. According to the company, Tretton's parting is the result of a "mutual agreement," but naturally, neither side's saying how that agreement was reached. The move certainly comes as a surprise, as Tretton had been with SCEA for almost 20 years, and was a part of the PlayStation team from the very beginning -- most recently overseeing the successful launch of Sony's newest console, the PS4. Evidently, that wasn't enough to keep him around... time will tell if Layden's a worthy successor.
Image Credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images
Source: Sony Computer Entertainment
The Last of Us made its debut last year to critical (and commercial) acclaim from the gaming community, and it appears that the film industry's just as smitten with the story it tells. Deadline Hollywood reports that Sony Pictures' Screen Gems production company has decided to develop a "live-action adaptation" of the PS3 version of the game, and Neil Druckmann, who was The Last of Us' creative director, will be writing the screenplay. Evan Wells and Christophe Balestra, the co-presidents of Naughty Dog, the studio that created the game, and the game's director, Bruce Straley will also lend their talents to the project as "creative architects," whatever that means. Naturally, since the deal has just been done, we don't know when to expect The Last of Us to make its way to the silver screen, but at least we know it's coming... at some point.
Source: Deadline Hollywood
When Ubisoft showed off Watch Dogs for the first time in 2012, there was no such thing as PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. Well, okay, they existed in some sense of the word, but both consoles were far from publicly ready, making Watch Dogs an unbelievably pretty game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Unbelievable to the point that many journalists were incredulous about it not being touted as intended for next-gen, but Ubisoft couldn't say it was headed to unannounced consoles. In so many words, Watch Dogs was essentially the first "next-gen" game shown off ... even before the consoles were unveiled. It's somewhat hilarious then that we're here to tell you today that Watch Dogs now has a release date -- May 27th -- after being delayed past the actual launch of the new consoles. It's unclear if that means all versions (Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, PC and Wii U) will arrive on the same day, though the Wii U version was already given a release date sometime after the other versions. Sorry Wii U, owners!
Director Robert Rodriguez is expanding on the story and characters first seen in his cult classic From Dusk Till Dawn with a new TV series, but that's not all there is to it. Here it's the debut original series on Rodriguez's new El Rey Network on cable, but outside the US Miramax has cut a deal with Netflix giving the streamer exclusive rights to all ten episodes. That means this time around Netflix will follow the weekly episode release schedule (like it did with Breaking Bad) instead of bingeing House of Cards-style, bringing new episodes within 24 hours of the US broadcast everywhere except Latin America. The US premiere is March 11th, while in Latin America it will premiere March 19th, with weekly releases after that -- in an unrelated note, Canada's Trailer Park Boys are returning with a whole new season on Netflix later this year.
A renewed Miramax has been a big player in streaming, making an initial US deal with Netflix in early 2011, followed by another one for international streaming rights in the same year. Since then, it's also opened its vaults to Hulu, Amazon Prime and Lovefilm / Amazon Prime Instant Video UK. The new series is debuting this week at SXSW, and according to Rodriguez "the film was the short story, this series is the novel." We'll once again follow the Gecko Bros. as they try to escape across the border after a bank heist and make a detour to a strip club filled with vampires. It's a familiar tale, but this time shoving 10 episodes full of grindhouse-style mayhem instead of a relatively brief two hour movie -- check out the official trailer after the break for a taste.
Cyanogen's Koushik Dutta has been teasing the prospect of mirroring your Android screen on Chromecast for a few weeks, and today you can finally try the feature -- if you have the right smartphone, that is. An updated version of the Mirror for Android beta includes early support for mirroring to either a Chrome browser or Chromecast, but only if you have a Nexus 5. Google's phone is the sole device with the hardware video decoder needed for this mirroring technique, Dutta says. You also have to get root-level access to the operating system with the current release, although that won't be necessary in the future. Provided you meet the app's exacting requirements, you can give mirroring a spin at the source link.
Source: Koushik Dutta (Google+)
Producer: Jon Turi
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The March Xbox One update is live; your friends list is now slightly more organized; and game broadcasting is mere days away. In reading through the laundry list of tweaks in last night's refresh, perhaps you noticed a handful of gamepad notes? Something to the effect of, "firmware update to the Xbox One controller"? That's secret code for, "You have to update your gamepad firmware." The next generation! We are in it! Head below for a step-by-step guide on entering this brave new world.