It's Halloween, and with that, Redbox responds to the trick-or-treat question with a 20% price increase at its 34,000 movie rental kiosks that starts today.
So what's the reason for the 20-cent price hike?
Congress. Specifically, Coinstar cites the recent passage of the Durbin Amendment as the reason why it has to jump its rates (in addition to any other increased operating expenses the company's faced). For those uninformed, the Durbin Amendment comes with two major provisions with which consumers have likely come into contact.
The first provision slapped a limit on the interchange fees that banks are allowed to charge – essentially, the money that they make from retailers whenever a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. In response, banks have started to scramble to cover the lost revenue, including going so far as to tell customers that they will soon be assessed a fee for using their debit cards to purchase items.
This morning Netflix announced that, due to overwhelming feedback from its members, the company would no longer move forward with plans to separate and spin off the DVD business. Instead, it will stay as it has always been, as one service that offers both DVD rentals by mail and instant streaming of content as well. The DVD and streaming plans will still be billed separately, and there's not yet any word on if Netflix will still move forward with the planned video game rentals that would have been part of Qwikster.
Netflix has officially expanded its business into Latin America: Brazil's the first country to receive the company's streaming movies and television shows, and Netflix plans to roll its service out to a total of 43 different countries in Latin American and the Caribbean over the next week.
Just looking at the numbers, Netflix will be able to bolster its current user count of around 23 million people –only consisting of American and Canadian viewers up until today – by the percentage of Latin America's roughly 205 million Internet users that could potentially tune in to their new streaming service. It's a big audience with potentially big rewards for Netflix, which is perhaps why the company spent so much time performing its due diligence to determine just how its Latin American audience views movies and TV shows.
"We've licensed thousands and thousands of hours of feature films, classic favorites, gripping telenovelas, documentaries and kids shows we know you'll enjoy," wrote Rochelle King, Netflix vice president of user experience and design, on the company's blog.
Starz Entertainment has ended contract negotiations with Netflix and will pull its content from the Watch Instantly platform effective February 28, the company announced Thursday.
"This decision is a result of our strategy to protect the premium nature of our brand by preserving the appropriate pricing and packaging of our exclusive and highly valuable content," Starz said in a statement. "With our current studio rights and growing original programming presence, the network is in an excellent position to evaluate new opportunities and expand its overall business."
In a statement, Netflix downplayed the current impact of the Starz partnership and said its content accounts for 8 percent of domestic viewing. As Netflix adds more movies and TV shows in the first quarter, it expects Starz viewing to drop to about 5-6 percent next year before the content is pulled.
Redbox is trying to get Americans off their streaming movie services and down to the local kiosk on August 25th with a free DVD rental.
The movie-rental kiosk service is attempting to lure existing customers down to the local grocery with the free DVD rental, normally worth just a buck. And there's a catch, as well as a bonus.
The offer was emailed on Sunday. Redbox officials weren't available for comment over the weekend.
So far, Redbox hasn't indicated how many customers will receive the free code, or if it applies to frequent customers, occasional customers (like or family) or new, potential additions. The catch? Each user needs to access the code via Facebook, and signing in allows Redbox to access your personal information, including your Likes, and post an update(s) to your Wall.
The more than 20,000 licensed movie clips may be found at YouTube MovieClips, a partnership with the MovieClips.com site.
Using the company's proprietary technology, a team of Content Curators assigns up to 1,000 points of relevant data points to every scene relating to everything from action to mood to setting, and prop, the site said. "Our goal is to promote the discovery of movies," said MovieClips co-founder Richard Raddon, in a statement. "By making our clips accessible on the biggest video platform on the web, we unlock the power of movie clips to promote feature film purchase and rental."
What this means, then, is that users can search for "say hello to my little friend" and either see a number of clips on YouTube itself or the licensed, HD version of the climactic, violent conclusion to the Al Pacino classic, Scarface. It's worth noting that the clips on YouTube are just a few seconds long, while the Movieclips.com clip is 3 minutes and 30 seconds.
Apple recently started allowing users to re-download TV shows purchased through iTunes, a feature already available for books, apps, and music. Movies are the one hold-out, but AppAdvice says iTunes Reply will add movies to the re-download list for a "full-fledged" service and potentially allow users to stream everything via Apple TV and iOS. No word on the desktop.
The service would apply to media purchased back to January 1, 2009. As Apple signs the appropriate licensing agreements, the company will put arrows next to purchased shows and movies to indicate that they are eligible for replay, AppAdvice said.
The blog said users should "expect this to go public in the coming weeks" and framed it as "an extension of what Apple is already doing with iCloud."
Netflix subscribers, you're gonna wanna pay close attention, because the company has announces some new plans and price changes that will affect everyone. Here's the long and short of it--Netflix has decided to split their DVD rental service and Watch Instantly streaming service into two separate offerings, each with their own pricing models. First, Netflix Watch Instantly unlimited streaming now costs $7.99 per month, and that does not include any DVDs by mail. Unlimited DVDs now start at $7.99 per month, 1 out at-a-time, and it does not include access to Watch Instantly. In fact, none of the DVD plans include Watch Instantly access. Access to each service now starts at $7.99 per month, so if you want both, it will now cost you $15.98, which is up from the $9.99 that it would have cost you yesterday.
The new pricing goes into effect today for new customers, and existing Netflix members will see the new pricing go into effect on or after September 1.
Read More | Netflix Blog
OS X users have been waiting for years for the priviledge of being able to play their Blu-ray discs on their Mac computers, and the day has finally arrived where they can. Sort of. You see, Apple has not officially built Blu-ray playback into OS X Lion or anything like that, instead the magic comes from a company called Macgo. Their new software, called "Mac Blu-ray Player" of all things, is what is used to view the discs. However, you'll need your own Mac-compatible internal or external Blu-ray drive, since that isn't a first-party option on Macs yet, and we doubt if it will ever be.
Read More | Macgo