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Netflix Calls Out HBO For Not Letting Subscribers Binge On New Shows (arstechnica.com) 59

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Netflix has gleefully poked a stick at its competitors in the video streaming market, after revealing it had added more than seven million subscribers to its service in the last three months of 2016. HBO also got a special mention. In a letter to shareholders, the company's boss Reed Hastings teased the TV drama maker by noting that, if the BBC was willing to stream shows before they air on television, then maybe HBO -- which has rigidly stuck to its strategy of eking out episodes to viewers -- should do the same. He said: "[...] 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." But it's worth noting that HBO currently has an exclusive deal with Sky in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, and Italy, allowing the broadcaster to have first-run rights on the likes of Game of Thrones and Westworld until 2020 -- so any such change isn't likely to happen in the near-term. Late last year, it struck a deal with Netflix rival Amazon, allowing Prime members in the US to sign up for a monthly HBO subscription. "We have a very successful partnership with this great company that continues to evolve," said HBO exec Sofia Chang in December. The company's HBO Now streaming service shows no sign of shifting strategy, either, with programs airing simultaneously on traditional TV and online.
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Netflix Calls Out HBO For Not Letting Subscribers Binge On New Shows

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  • by omnichad ( 1198475 ) on Thursday January 19, 2017 @06:05PM (#53699321) Homepage

    Now if only the BBC would offer paid subscriptions to their iPlayer content to other coountries. Cord cutters are not going to subscribe to BBC America but are willing to pay for better access.

    • Followup - they'd have to make more money on Sherlock by selling subscriptions than by licensing to PBS.

      • by Darinbob ( 1142669 ) on Thursday January 19, 2017 @07:14PM (#53699761)

        Sherlock is on Netflix. I'm waiting for access to the last two years of Doctor Who, and other decent BBC shows. It's in a quandary though; it wants a piece of the streaming pie, but is also restricted in how it can offer taxpayer sponsored programming to other countries.

        • Sherlock is on Netflix.

          Not 2017 Sherlock.

          but is also restricted in how it can offer taxpayer sponsored programming to other countries.

          Is that really true? BBC America airs Doctor Who almost on the exact same schedule. Sherlock is licensed to PBS. What restrictions are they under?

          • I'm not sure. I know they've been under pressure, as in because they're making a profit therefore funding should be cut. It's free in UK (after tv tax), but not free elsewhere. There's the issue of iplayer not being usable outside of UK, whereas their plan for streaming their own stuff seems to be iplayer based. But since Doctor Who was yanked from netflix and hulu I haven't seen any updates to making content available for streaming.

            • I'm not sure. I know they've been under pressure, as in because they're making a profit therefore funding should be cut.

              You have to love it when the government is in charge. Only in government does making a profit equal punishing someone.

              • I call that being fiscally responsible. Governments have to at least make a show of this. Companies do not.

                Collecting tax payer money in order to provide a service and then making a profit seems, to me at least, to be wrong. If they can make a profit, then they don't need tax money. That money should either be returned to the tax payer or diverted to a program that needs it.

                That said, I know nothing about the BBC or TV tax. I just take exception to automatically throwing government under the bus just becaus

          • by Nadir ( 805 )
            Italian Netflix has received Sherlock Season 4 the day after it aired in the UK.
        • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

          Here in Italy Netflix has Doctor Who series 5 to 9, which I believe to be the last one.

        • If you think about it the Sherlock format is sort of before it's time and revolutionary. If you think about the context of binge watching 10-20 epsoides of a TV show at a time on Netflix, what Sherlock did was recognize that people are going to watch more than the just the 30min or 45min show, and simply decided to do fewer but most longer complete shows of 1.5h. Hope they make more. Doctor Who I tried to get into, but I could take or leave most of it.

        • Netflix no longer has the licensing deal for Doctor Who, it is now available on Amazon Prime. Also, it looks like Doctor Who skipped a year.

          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

          This may be why you perceive a season not being available, it doesn't actually exist. I watched the most recent season on Netflix before they changed the deal to Amazon, so I know it was available previously there.

      • Followup - they'd have to make more money on Sherlock by selling subscriptions than by licensing to PBS.

        Well if they'd sold subscriptions before the current season started, you might be right. But at least based on how the current season is being widely panned by fans, it might be a tougher sell now.

        • I don't really get the hate. They finally went back toward the original storytelling style that made the first season so good.

        • Is it better than the mess that was season 3?

          • I thought it was better. I really didn't like Season 3. It went back to more of the original storytelling style in a very good way.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      They can't for a number of reasons:

      1) They always lead the pack on technology like this, but the old guard like Murdoch cry their fucking eyes out over it and get the government to cripple them which means they're legally barred from doing such things by old-fashioned fuckwads that are unable to compete purely because they're inept and get pissy that something as inefficient as the BBC can even out innovate them.

      2) As a result the next best thing they have is the BBC World Service which sells content to Ame

  • Batching Means Delay (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Luthair ( 847766 ) on Thursday January 19, 2017 @06:14PM (#53699369)

    If you publish the entire season at once this means you were sitting on progressively more unreleased for a period of time. Imagine if one were to instead release this content as it were available instead of making people wait...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As opposed to the delay of making people each week for the show then going on hiatus for a few months at a time because its not "sweeps month"?

      I'd much rather the show come out all at once than in spits and spurts because if I'm really into the story nothing pisses me off more than having to wait for 3 months while they make more, or pre-empt it around some sporting / cultural events, or because they're waiting for the "best" time to exact the maximum value from the advertisers.

      Having it all at once lets me

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )

        As opposed to the delay of making people each week for the show then going on hiatus for a few months at a time because its not "sweeps month"?

        I'd much rather the show come out all at once than in spits and spurts because if I'm really into the story nothing pisses me off more than having to wait for 3 months while they make more, or pre-empt it around some sporting / cultural events, or because they're waiting for the "best" time to exact the maximum value from the advertisers.

        So you'd rather wait for a year while they make the next season after they release their big batch?

        Having it all at once lets me watch it on my schedule, and I don't mind waiting for that in the slightest.

        Wait until its all released and watch as you choose?

        • So you'd rather wait for a year while they make the next season after they release their big batch?

          Having it all at once lets me watch it on my schedule, and I don't mind waiting for that in the slightest.

          Wait until its all released and watch as you choose?

          No! He want's to watch it this way so everyone should. Asking him to wait to watch an episode that is already out there requires discipline and is very un-millennial of you.

    • Not only does it mean they're holding onto it, it means they're paying for a full season upfront without knowing what the response will be. Of course, this cost gets passed on to the subscribers. If something is a flop, congrats - you bought 9+ episodes no one will ever watch because the first was such a fucking turd a regular network would have preferred to run a damned commemorative coin infomercial in that slot.

      Who can seriously sit through the first episode of The OA or Pacific Heat and say they want

      • My wife and I binged through The OA on Netflix in a single night.

        At first I didn't like it (shaky cameras give me headaches) but it eventually settled down after the first episode.

        Honestly I enjoyed it, and I really hope they continue it.

    • by Dorianny ( 1847922 ) on Thursday January 19, 2017 @07:07PM (#53699699) Journal

      If you publish the entire season at once this means you were sitting on progressively more unreleased for a period of time. Imagine if one were to instead release this content as it were available instead of making people wait...

      This would be true for studio based TV shows which are typically shot sequentially. On location series are typically shot all at once, movie style. The extra wait for the entire series to be finished would be a couple of weeks of post-production

    • The linear networks don't do that either. At the very start of the season they usually have half the season at least already complete, and sometimes the full season (especially British stuff that doesn't have the length 22 episode seasons).

  • We got our rights as bingers. I want to be able to watch the entire season on release day. #BingerLivesMatter

  • by sexconker ( 1179573 ) on Thursday January 19, 2017 @06:30PM (#53699473)

    Binging new content is one of the worst things about Netflix.

    Shows become a chore to get through. You have to get through them soon or you risk getting spoiled and can't talk about it with other people.
    Once you get through it, you've got nothing for a year or more. There are a finite number of shows any one person gives a shit about, so this quickly becomes a problem.

    Those are personal problems, however. Dumping an entire season at once results in major problems that hurt all users.

    Look at Netflix's original content - their own series mostly suck but still get 4-5 star reviews out the ass simply because there are people who feel the need latch onto SOMETHING to binge on, and Netflix keeps churning them out. On the other end of the spectrum, you get people who spend 2 minutes watching 1 episode giving the whole series a 1 star review. I don't know if they're sock puppeting, but the reviews for Netflix Originals are worse than useless.

    Netflix seems to be going after quantity instead of quality. They let a few hits get to their head and now churn out mostly crap they gets overrated because it's from Netflix. (HBO had a similar thing going on 15 years ago or so - everything they put out got hyped and praised regardless of how shitty it was.)

    Seriously, go look at House of Cards Season 1 and compare it to House of Cards Season Who Gives a Shit?. Compare Archer to Netflix's pathetic copy Pacific Heat. Everyone was masturbating loudly about Stranger Things, so I watched it. It's pretty poor substitute for The Goonies. Black Mirror Season 3 is incredibly worse than Seasons 1 and 2 (not made by Netflix) - and that says a lot because Seasons 1 and 2 were pretty bad themselves. People compared it to The Twilight Zone! How the FUCK are you going to do that and then expect me to believe you're sane and not being paid by Netflix to say such shit?

    Even their non-fiction shit is pure crap. From The Grand Tour (which is somehow even more wooden and scripted than that other show) to The White Rabbit Project, Netflix has awful, awful shit with a few gems. Their good shit is usually their animated shit - from Bojack to F is for Family to Voltron. (Of course, we can't forget Pacific Heat.) Hell, Netflix even managed to fuck up Arrested Development!

    Look at their films as well - ARQ, Coin Heist, The Ridiculous 6. It's a shithouse!

    This all matters because Netflix is becoming more and more like another network/studio that churns out shit that I end up paying for. Dumping/Binging means they have more gaps to fill in the calendar and makes them run into the same problems as traditional networks/studios.

    If I could pay for Netflix without funding production of a full season of Fuller House, or whatever failure gets 10 episodes up front but would've been shitcanned after 1 (PACIFIC HEAT) I would. And I say this as someone who has repeatedly said I would gladly give up Amazon Video / Amazon Pantry / Amazon Buttwiper / whatever to get a free shipping only, yet has turned to Amazon Video instead of Netflix because Netflix's library is 95% shit.

    • I don't like all of Netflix's offerings, to be sure, but series like Jessica Jones, Bojack Horseman, Stranger Things and even The OA (which does get weird for weird's sake sometimes) are all as good, if not better, than anything on network TV.

      Stranger Things, in particular, is just a glorious piece of awesomeness, celebrating an era that's essentially my youth. Seeing those kids eating takeout pizza and playing D&D in the basement, well, that could have been me back in 1982-83. It evokes the era so well

    • Binging new content is one of the worst things about Netflix.

      Shows become a chore to get through. You have to get through them soon or you risk getting spoiled and can't talk about it with other people.

      Exactly. It's bad enough when I've got something going on with the family that it prevents me from watching Game of Thrones for 24 (or even 48) hours and now I've got to avoid spoilers being dropped everywhere. Having to do that for a few weeks would suck.

      But aside from that...I'll admit I don't know much about the depth of writing for any of Netflix's shows, but I feel like there are lots of shows that would actually suffer from binge release. For shows that have plenty of depth involve, you want time to w

  • When CW shows were on Hulu, I could stream the current season's episodes just about as soon as they were released. Now that you have them, though, I can't stream any of the current season - at all. If immediate release is supposedly so important to you, then what's with that?

    Episodes of HBO's shows get released as soon as they've finished production. Yours, on the other hand, get held until the last episode of the season is done. Also, HBO seems to have original content I actually find compelling, while you

  • by l0ungeb0y ( 442022 ) on Thursday January 19, 2017 @10:16PM (#53700575) Homepage Journal
    I like the weekly release of shows like Game of Thrones and West World -- you get to talk to other viewers about the Show as it progresses rather than just in past tense. Binge Watching is nice if you want to get a Show or Season done and over right away. But I find that with quality Shows, I'll take the time to batch them out on my own to draw the viewing experience out longer
  • by JustAnotherOldGuy ( 4145623 ) on Friday January 20, 2017 @12:10AM (#53701053)

    I find the video access that comes with Amazon Prime to be superior to Netflix. It may just be that my personal tastes align better with what Amazon has to offer, but I think Amazon also has a lot more content so I'm more likely to find something I want to watch.

    You also get access to about a bazillion ebooks as well...I haven't used that as much but I have downloaded a few that interested me.

    Not a bad deal for $99 a year considering it also includes free 2-day shipping for most of the stuff Amazon sells. .

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