Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘entertainment

Game of Phones

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Today many eyes will be turned to Cupertino for Apple’s fall launch event.  But one of Apple’s original iPhone telco providers is where the heat is actually getting turned up.

Hedge fund Elliott Management has taken a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T, and is raising questions about the company’s M&A strategy and operational execution. In a letter to the company, Elliott has called for new board members and an assessment as to the capabilities of the existing leadership team, including CEO Randall Stephenson.

According to a report from CNBC, Elliott cited “the company’s history of questionable acquisition decisions, including buying DirecTV and Time Warner…In all, AT&T has spent about $200 billion in recent years on acquisitions.”

DirecTV’s price was $67B, Time Warner $104B, and T-Mobile slipped through Stephenson’s finger even as he has tried to pivot the company towards both a wireless and media company. 

But millions of subscribers have left DirecTV since the deal close in 2015, and as for the Time Warner deal outcome, it’s probably too soon to tell. For a good signal, I would suggest keeping an eye on the quality of the emerging HBO lineup, the TV canary in the proverbial wireless coalmine. 

Written by turbotodd

September 10, 2019 at 9:40 am

Posted in 2019, apple, att, smartphones

Tagged with , , , ,

The Netflix Identity Crisis

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I got the most extraordinary email earlier today, from Reed Hastings, the CEO of Netflix.

The email is also posted on The Netflix Blog, if you want to go and read it in its entirety.

Upon the heels of Netflix’s announced price increases, which went over with many Netflix customers like a ton of bricks, Hastings is now announcing that Netflix is going to become the “Sybil” of video delivery services, online and off.

That is to say, Netflix as we know it shall be no more.  The Netflix you used to know — you know, the one that delivered DVDs for years and helped close a few thousand Blockbuster stores — well, they’re now going to be called “Qwikster.”

I know, they clearly don’t have a corporate naming department over there at Netflix…err, Qwikster.

From here on out, Hastings explained, Qwikster will do the DVD deliveries.

Netflix, which used to do DVD deliveries, is no longer going to do deliveries, because they’re going to be the streaming part of the former Netflix.

The new Netflix is the same as the old Netflix, minus that key part of DVD deliveries, which apparently is no longer key.

Ya got all that?

Now, let me just say this: I’m a HUGE fan of Netflix and/or Qwikster.  I’m more a fan of the new Netflix than I am the old, meaning I prefer the online streaming delivery model to the USPS model.

However, there’s one big issue with this move: The better content library seems to be in the Qwikster part of the business, which is exactly the opposite of the way it should be.

The streaming delivery model should be the core of the Netflix model, but everytime I go to Netflix online, I struggle to find new and/or interesting titles that have at least a three star rating (I’ve found that’s the minimal threshold for watching movies on Netflix).

In fact, I’ve been watching mostly foreign films (which I have no problem watching whatsoever) lately, because the Netflix library is much deeper with foreign distributors than American ones (read: Hollywood ones).

And therein lies the real problem. Hollywood is still scared to death of being “Napsterized.”  They want control of their content, come hell or highwater.  And the early deals they stuck with Netflix were made when streaming was still a novelty.

Well, those days are over.  Streaming has grown up: It’s convenient, it’s immediate, and it’s a huge business opportunity, for the Hollywood studios as well as filmmakers around the globe.

There’s no stopping it, not even with Netflix’s latest branding identity crisis.  The big question that remains is, who of the big movie industry players is going to step up and make a deal.  A BIG deal, one that offers a deep and wide movie library that benefits consumers, but identifies a business model that can work for the studios and the Netflix/Qwiksters.

Because if THEY don’t, someone is going to.  Or not.  And then the so-called “Napsterization” of Hollywood will make what happened to the music industry seem like “The Bad News Bears” meets “Moneyball.”

Ultimately, avid movie fans like myself want just a handful of small things, none of which seem too much to ask: a robust library of movie choices at reasonable prices delivered the way we prefer.  Again, let me mention that we’re willing to pay for it!

Increasingly, that channel is going to be via streaming, and no amount of putting-head-under-the-sand by Hollywood studios is going to alter that direction.

Despite all the consumer hysteria about this change that’s already bubbling up across the Blogosphere, I have to say, that probably is the best and most valuable lesson from this whole endeavor: The fact that Hastings made his announcement in a letter he sent out to customers via email and posted on the Netflix blog.

His customers, according to the comments section, are mostly not in favor of this move.  But what’s different is: Hastings and his team are given his customers a direct vehicle response to the message he delivered to them.

Only time will tell whether or not Hastings and team heard them.

Written by turbotodd

September 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm

Crossing The Rubicon

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Anybody see the last episodes of “Mad Men” and “Rubicon” last evening?

Spoiler Alert.  If you’ve got them on your DVRs, stop reading now, because I plan to comment on some of the outcomes.

First, Don Draper.  Did anybody see that coming?  Asking the new secretary to marry him on a trip to Disneyland, and using now deceased Anna’s ring? What a small world after all, especially for the lovely researcher, Dr. Faye, who’s on the losing end of this proposition, as she was assumedly in love with Draper, and he with her.

I dreaded Draper’s contacting Faye (or not) the rest of the episode.  The from-the-couch psychotherapy that could be read into that decision (marrying his assistant over the professional working woman), particularly at that point in history…well, it could fill volumes.

Meanwhile, poor Peggy Olson puts on her advertising gumshoes and lands the troubled Topaz account virtually on her own, and nary a person in Sterling Cooper notices due to Don’s newlywed nuptials.

I can’t wait to see where Matthew Wiener takes this thing next season.

As for “Rubicon,” it’s my favorite new show on TV.

It’s everything impatient and reality TV isn’t.  It makes you wait.  It’s slow to unwind.  But the looming backdrop is like a conspiracy unraveling amidst a greater web of conspiracy.

It’s impossible to dive right into this show and understand what’s going on.  From the first episode, the backstory drove the narrative, and the conspiracy, but it’s been one that’s a real pleasure to see unwind.

When the rest of TV is beating up on your intelligence with sensory overload (“Ice Road Truckers,” “Dancing with the Stars”), “Rubicon” has been more like a storyline cabernet that just needed a few weeks to breathe and open up.

And open up it has.  API analyst Will Travers uses his fine analytical abilities to connect one dot to another through most of the season, only to discover there’s a seemingly whole other portrait being painted, one that transcends that of the inside operation being planned by Truxton Spangler.

The terrorist attack in Galveston Bay was planned and masterminded by a cabal of insiders connected to Atlas MacDowell, but they’re convinced Spangler’s left too much of a trail linking the attack (purposely) to Iran, and with Will Travers having learned way too much.

Who’s ultimately pulling the strings, then, becomes the critical question. If not Spangler, if not his associates (who deliver the much feared four leaf clover, a death sentence in the show to date), then who?

That’s the key question left to the imagination, and one that will only likely be answered if “Rubicon” is picked up for another year.

My vote is most assuredly yes…then again, I’ve never been a big “Ice Road Truckers” fan.

Written by turbotodd

October 18, 2010 at 3:29 pm

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