Netflix Challenges the Status Quo with House of Cards

February 6, 2013 § Leave a comment


House of Cards

House of Cards

Over the past few days, I have been watching House of Cards on Netflix. My two cents… if you like smart political dramas in the style of The West Wing and Newsroom, then you will likely enjoy this.

However, as much as I am enjoying the show, I am fascinated by the implications of Netflix original content, pushing the whole show out at once, and how social and digital lifestyles are embedded into the fabric of the show.

Netflix Original Content: I have been fan of Netflix’s steaming service for a while and it has been a great platform to catch up on old shows. It is not robust enough to replace cable, but now is part of my stable of content providers. If Netflix continues to develop a relevant and fresh content library – along with first-class original content, they will probably have me as a customer for life. Moreover, at roughly the same cost or less than adding an HBO, Showtime or similar channel to an existing cable bill, Netflix can be complimentary versus competitive. While most consumers are not ready to give up cable, they may be ready to add a new type of channel to their line up. I think this is strong step in that direction and IPTV and entertainment platforms such as xBox only make it easier.

Pushing out the Complete Series: This is genius to me. Like others have noted this is very experimental, but not off the charts.  I have enjoyed for years watching shows in marathon format, but you can always tell how the show is designed around commercial breaks and episodes. While the episodic notion of House of Cards is very much there, the flow of the show is much improved. Furthermore, I think House of Cards does a good job with keeping segments of the show moving, than say Newsroom, which can feel a bit monotonous over the course of an hour.

Some folks are commenting that this style of release will have challenges around spoiler alerts, but those don’t watch TV in real time are already used to that. Others have commented that social TV watching  is not possible. Yes, that is true, but we really giving up anything by paying less attention to what we are watching so we can read clever quips from strangers. Lastly, I am hearing comments that House of Cards will not create weekly buzz the way other shows do. I think there is some credibility, however, producers might find more balance in seasonal buzz versus episode-to-episode buzz. Furthermore, I suspect that producers will come up with some hybrid models that release shows in quarter or half seasons to gain best of both worlds. Remember, we are experimenting here.

Embedded Social Context: Many shows about politics and news are quick to have the stereotypical blogger character, but this shows goes deeper. One of the main characters is not just blogging, but challenging the current publishing model and finding that a staid paper is not evolving fast enough.  The shows main political operator also recognizes this and uses the fresh face of emerging media to drive his own agenda. Of all the TV I have watched lately, House of Cards does the best job of highlighting new media models and the resistance of the press to change. I think this is noteworthy story line in the show. I would say more, but don’t want to be a spoiler.

So…check out the show if you like political dramas and check out Netflix if you were waiting for a good excuse to add a new channel to your line up. Would love to hear any thoughts.

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My 2011 Technology Year-in-Review

December 19, 2011 § Leave a comment


December 19, 2011. This year has been a fun one for technology. Some in and some out, but overall new technology played a role in my life in 2011. Here are some of the memorable moves:

  • Upgraded from iPhone 3G to 4: I only had the 3G for a short time, but was very happy with the 4. Slimmer feel, better screen, lower profile, etc. Definitely a good move.
  • Upgraded to IOS5: Overrated, but the homepage notifications are very cool. Getting the cloud features set up are a bit confusing.
  • Upgraded Macbook from Snow Leopard to Lion: I just did this over the weekend and so far so good. Will have to do a little tinkering to get used to, but did have to switch the scrolling direction back to the old style. Not entirely sure why Apple reversed it. On a positive note…the upgrade was beyond easy.
  • Retired the iPod: I really should say it retired itself, but when it turned off and never back on again I just put it down. I used to still use it for running and just other random uses – like not wanting to use my phone to play music on the stereo. However, I have given up the IPod (for now…I just won a shuffle so this conversation might be moot).
  • Signed up for Neflix Streaming: I have turned my Netflix account on and off about 10 times in the last 7 years. Back in the DVD days, sometimes it was convenient and other times not. As On Demand got better…ordering DVDs just seemed a pain. However, I now use Netflix to stream old TV shows like Friday Night Lights and Mad Men while traveling. Also, great on the xBox as there is a good library of movies for kids (I have two of them).
  • Signed up for Spotify: Got on the list early and fell in love with Spotify almost immediately. Upgraded to Premium shortly thereafter and enjoy Spotify on all devices. Have it hooked up to Facebook, which people either love or hate, but what I am listening to always makes for interesting conversation now.
  • Stopped using Pandora, Last.fm, and “other” applications: See above.
  • Stopped Daily Coupon Sites: Loved em at first, just sick of them now. However, I still won’t take myself of the mailing list…not sure why. Something makes me feel like I would miss something.
  • Dropped Logitec / GoogleTV: A big disappointment. In several places I have written about Google TV and its promise. I still believe SmartTV is on its way, but the least Google could have done was make what promised to be a good experience minimally viable. Beyond the clumsiness of the user interface, my Logitech box stopped working.
  • Got Flipboard: Very cool app for news.  Flipping is much better than scrolling.
  • Got Instagram: I only wish I could do what some other folks do (taking multiple applications to create an instagram – otherwise called instababs?). Seen really cool stuff from others and have had some fun myself.
  • IMDB: Have had the app for a while now, but outside of banking, email, and other functional apps, IMDB is possibly my most used app. I love when someone asks “who is that actor?”
  • Joined Google+: Got on board, but don’t really use it. We will see about next year.
  • Joined Diaspora: Same as above, but with less enthusiasm.
  • Wait listed for Bank Simple and So.cl: I suppose these will both be part of the story in 2012.

I think this covers my big technology moves for 2011. I am sure I forgot some, but this is at least what I can remember in 15 minutes. Would love to hear about technology moves in 2011 from anyone else.

Will iCloud Have 5 Million Users by January 1, 2013

June 30, 2011 § 1 Comment


June 30, 2011.  Last night I got into a debate with a good friend about whether or not iCloud could reach 5 million users by 2013, essentially a year after its release this fall.

I took the side that 5 million, while it does not sound like a lot of people, is from a music/technology perspective. I think the uphill battle for Apple is that both Google and Amazon’s service do not seem to be taking off, that people are not ready for another conversion effort (it really was not that long ago that we all turned our CDs to digital), and for many of us…having music locally stored is working fine.

On the other hand, my friend believes that this service is going to be incredibly convenient, the conversion will be simple since it just requires a scan and match (which in many cases may result in getting higher quality music), its inexpensive at $25 per year, and with Wi-Fi everywhere users will always have access to their music without being tied to any one device.

I like all of these ideas in principle. However, there are some issues worth mentioning.

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Opinion: MySpace will Survive

June 30, 2011 § 2 Comments


June 30, 2011  MySpace has been through lots of ups and downs and it is hard to say exactly how to classify its sale to Specific Media for 35 million. Despite its troubles, I think MySpace has a bright future. Here are the primary reasons and what Specific Media should focus on.

  • MySpace is a Great Music Destination: If you like music and connecting with artists, it is a great site. Artists take care of their pages and provide insight into their lives through MySpace blogs, comments, videos, etc. While MySpace did not start out as a destination for artists it has become one of the better ones due to this. « Read the rest of this entry »

Opinion: The End of Daily Deals?

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment


5.25.11 At this point, I have signed up for daily deals with Rue La La, Jack Threads, Level Up, and at least 1 or 2 others. I am now getting a deluge of daily emails and these companies are promising to send more of these offers and a new companies with marginally different value propositions are popping up as fast as the daily deals. In fact I heard even Glen Beck is starting a daily deal site with 50% discount offers – how original. « Read the rest of this entry »

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