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People Like Netflix's Original Content More Than Its Other Content: AllFlicks ( 14

According to a study by IHS Markit this month, in the last two years Netflix's spending on original content rose from $2.38 billion to $4.91 billion. The company has invested big in original programming -- and it looks to be paying off. The folks over at AllFlicks have found that Netflix's subscriber base prefers Netflix's original content to that of its syndicated content. AllFlicks reports: Netflix user ratings show that Netflix's subscriber base prefers Netflix's original content to its syndicated content. Netflix originals sport an average rating of 3.85 stars out of five; all other content averages 3.47 stars. That means that user ratings for Netflix originals are 11% higher, on average, than user ratings for syndicated content. Netflix does best in the documentaries category, where users rate non-original content, on average, at 3.54. Netflix's documentaries average 4.07 stars, a pretty impressive showing. Netflix's TV shows do the worst, but still edge their other TV show content by 5.7%. It's possible that the frequent reviewers among Netflix's user base differ from the user base as a whole, but there's not a lot of reason to doubt the raw data here. The Netflix originals and non-originals were both reviewed on the same service and using the same rating system, yet originals consistently outperformed the rest of the content.

AT&T Buys Time Warner For $85B. Is The Mass Media Consolidating? ( 127

Though regulators may not agree, "Time Warner and AT&T reps claim this is necessary just to compete," warns Mr D from 63. Reuters reports: The tie-up of AT&T Inc and Time Warner Inc, bringing together one of the country's largest wireless and pay TV providers and cable networks like HBO, CNN and TBS, could kick off a new round of industry consolidation amid massive changes in how people watch TV... Media content companies are having an increasingly difficult time as standalone entities, creating an opportunity for telecom, satellite and cable providers to make acquisitions, analysts say. Media firms face pressure to access distribution as more younger viewers cut their cable cords and watch their favorite shows on mobile devices. Distribution companies, meanwhile, see acquiring content as a way to diversify revenue.
The deal reflects "big changes in consumption of video particularly among millennials," according to one former FCC commissioner, and the article also reports that the deal "will face serious opposition." Massachusetts Democrat Edward Markey warned "we need more competition, not more consolidation... Less competition has historically resulted in fewer choices and higher prices for consumers..." And in a Saturday speech, Donald Trump called it " an example of the power structure I'm fighting...too much concentration of power in the hands of too few."

Amazon May Handle 30% Of All US Retail Sales ( 70

An anonymous reader quotes USA Today: Amazon's yearly sales account for about 15% of total U.S. consumer online sales, according to the company's statements and the Department of Commerce. But the Seattle e-commerce company may actually be handling double that amount -- 20% to 30% of all U.S. retail goods sold online -- thanks to the volume of sales it transacts for third parties on its website and app. Only a portion of those sales add to its revenue.

"The punchline is that Amazon's twice as big as people give them credit for, because there's this iceberg under the surface, but you only see the tip," said Scot Wingo, executive chairman of Channel Advisor, an e-commerce software company that works with thousands of online sellers. When third-party sales are taken into account, Amazon's share of what U.S. shoppers spend online could be as high as $125 billion yearly...

Amazon's share will grow even larger when they can offer two-hour deliveries, warns one analyst, while another puts it more succinctly. "Amazon's just going to slowly grab more and more of your wallet."
Classic Games (Games)

New Text Adventures Compete In 22nd 'Interactive Fiction Competition' ( 24

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: 58 brand-new text adventures are now available free online for the 22nd Annual Interactive Fiction Competition. The public is encouraged to play the games, and on November 16th the contest's organizers will announce which ones received the highest average ratings. After 22 years, the contest is now under "the auspices of the Interactive Fiction Technology Foundation, a new, charitable non-profit corporation dedicated to supporting the technologies and services that enable IF creation and play..." according to the contest's organizers. "[T]he competition now runs on servers paid for by the IF-loving public, and for this I feel sincere gratitude."
PlayStation (Games)

Mark Cerny, Chief PlayStation Architect, Explains the PS4 Pro ( 71

Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro, which launches next month on November 10th, is the company's most powerful console that will be capable of outputting 4K and HDR content, including movies, TV shows and games. In an effort to find out how developers will make use of the console and whether or not the PS4 Pro will in any way undermine the audience of the current PS4, The Verge sat down with Mark Cerny, Sony's chief PlayStation architect, and asked him some questions. The Verge reports: The PS4 Pro is 2.28 times more powerful than its predecessor, but not everything will run in native 4K
Instead of using an entirely new GPU, Cerny said the PS4 Pro is using a "double-sauced one." In effect, the new console has a second, identical GPU configured next to the original, more than doubling the processing power of the Pro. While the standard PS4 produces 1.8 teraflops, the PS4 Pro achieves 4.2 teraflops. This is how the device can achieve native 4K and, in some cases, what Cerny said are results "extremely close to 4K." For select software, including games like adventure title Horizon Zero Dawn and Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, the PS4 Pro will use a crafty technique called checkerboard rendering to achieve 2160p resolution. Checkboard rendering changes the formation of pixels to achieve higher-fidelity graphics.

Standard PS4 games will play just the same unless devs patch them
For the more than 700 or so existing PS4 games, Cerny said the goal was to ensure those titles played smoothly no matter what. That's why the Pro incorporates an identical GPU. Because the new console has "the old GPU next to a mirror version of itself," Sony can support existing games with a simple trick: "We just turn off the second GPU," he said. Developers can patch these titles to boost graphics and performance in very subtle ways. But unless you have a 4K television, the difference will not be substantial.

Sony says it doesn't want games released solely for the PS4 Pro
When asked whether Sony would ever let a game run exclusively on the PS4 Pro, Cerny was blunt. "We're putting a very high premium on not splitting the user base in that fashion," he said. That doesn't rule out the possibility that, two or even three years down the line, a game comes out that relies so heavily on the hardware improvements of the Pro that it becomes unplayable on the standard PS4. Cerny wouldn't really speak much to that scenario, saying that Sony is asking developers to take advantage of the new console without leaving older hardware behind.
You can also watch Mark Cerny chat with PlayStation Blog's Sid Shuman about the creation of the PS4 Pro here on YouTube.

Television Needs To Be Reinvented, Says Apple SVP ( 198

Eddy Cue, Senior Vice President of Internet Software and Service at Apple, isn't happy with the current state of how people watch TV. He said we currently live with a "glorified VCR," the interface of our current TV is the problem and we need to reinvent it. Cue pointed out a number of other issues he has with today's TV:"It's really hard to use [a cable box or satellite TV]. Setting something to record, if you didn't watch something last night, if you didn't set it to record, it's hard to find, it may not be available. There may be some rights issues," Cue said. "It's great to be able to tell your device, 'I wanna watch the Duke basketball game, I don't care what channel it's on.' I just want to watch the Duke basketball game. Today you got to bring in the TV, go through the guide, find which sports programs or whatever -- it's just hard to do."

All the Good Netflix Movies Are in Canada and Brazil ( 93

Netflix's movie library has declined over the last two years when cross referenced with IMDB's 250 movies list. Earlier this month, we learned that if you were in the United States, Netflix only had 31 of the 250 movies listed on the holy-grail of all movie databases. Gizmodo today reports that if you were in Brazil or Canada, that same library looks a lot better. From the report: According to analysis by both The Streaming Observer and AddonHQ, Canada and Brazil have the best content ecosystems, when it comes to movies on Netflix. But when it comes to good movies, Brazil is tops. The Streaming Observer found that Brazil had 85 movies from IMDb's Top 250 in its library. The site also put together a ridiculously huge chart if you want to see exactly which movies are available on each service. It's worth checking out. Brazil has movies that those of us in America could only dream of streaming, like The Godfather Part II, Fight Club, and The Empire Strikes Back. Mexico and Sweden have solid showings too, with 73 and 70 movies from the IMDb's Top 250 in their respective libraries.

Samsung Forced YouTube To Pull GTA 5 Mod Video Because It Showed Galaxy Note 7 As Bomb ( 218

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Redmond Pie: The Galaxy Note 7 wasn't just recalled, it was cancelled. For good. And that makes Samsung very cranky indeed. So when YouTube user HitmanNiko created a video showing a Grand Theft Auto 5 mod in which Galaxy Note 7 handsets can be used as grenades, it's perhaps somewhat understandable that someone inside Samsung took offense to the idea. What's incomprehensible though is the fact that Samsung has apparently set about trying to erase that video, and presumably others like it, from the Internet. The first step? Forcing YouTube to remove HitmanNiko's video. Trying to view the video now does nothing but display a message which says that the video is "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Samsung Electronics America" which leaves quite the bad taste in our mouths. The biggest issue here is that this is arguably the worst misuse of the DMCA we have ever come across, simply because nothing was copied, unless Samsung is trying to claim that by making the in-game grenades look like Galaxy Note 7 smartphones then the video creator was in fact in breach of copyright.

Nintendo NX Will Be Officially Revealed Tomorrow ( 35

An anonymous reader quotes a report from GameSpot: Nintendo confirmed this evening that it will broadcast new details about the company's next big console on Thursday, October 20 at 7am PT | 10am ET. We don't yet know how long it'll be. We don't know if we'll see games or hardware. But it's going to be exciting. Notably, Nintendo calls the announcement a "trailer" and not a full direct presentation. But regardless, we'll update this page tomorrow with a link to whatever Nintendo unveils. While we've known about the NX for quite a while, Nintendo has been stoic on any specific details. Back in 2015, the device was rumored to be a console/handheld hybrid, and current speculation says the device will use cartridges. But no matter what it looks like, Nintendo has confirmed two things: it's slated to launch in March of 2017, and it will be able to play the upcoming Zelda game Breath of the Wild. Nintendo of America tweeted about the big news earlier today, alongside a picture of Mario: "Be among the first to discover #NX. Watch the Preview Trailer at 7am PT/10am ET!"

Google To Launch Streaming TV Service In Early 2017 ( 21

It looks like the internet search giant is expected to beat Apple to the punch by releasing its streaming TV service early next year. The Wall Street Journal notes that CBS has agreed to bring content to the service, while 21st Century Fox and Walt Disney are in the final stages of talks to add their content to the service. What's more is that the service is expected to be "housed under the YouTube brand." Karl Bode for DSLReports writes: The service, to be called "Unplugged," aims to be a "low-cost option targeting customers who either have resisted subscribing to traditional pay-TV or cut the cord due to rising costs." While Google sells traditional TV service in its Google Fiber footprint, subscriber numbers have been low for the service. An over the top service might be well received by the general public, but it also might provide promising if bundled with Google FIber's existing broadband offerings. Google is looking to offer a "skinny" bundle of live TV channels with a price in the range of $25 to $40 a month, states the Journal. The report also notes that the service will be entirely separate from YouTube Red, a subscription service ($10 or $13 for iOS users) that offers ad-free YouTube video viewing.

LeEco Who? Chinese Tech Giant Tries Its Luck In the US With 'More Products Than You've Ever Seen' ( 58

LeEco is often called the Netflix of China. Which is funny for two reasons: LeEco is bigger than Netflix, and it has been around for longer than the American on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service. Besides, LeEco runs a fleet of other businesses, including ecommerce portal, smartphones, TVs, and even an autonomous cars. A company executive said this month that this would be a better description of LeEco, "If you were to take Apple, Amazon, Paramount Pictures, Tesla, Uber and Netflix and combine all of those companies, you get what LeEco does in China" But you may not have heard much about LeEco, the company which was until earlier this year known as LeTv. But you will now, because the company today announced a range of products for the U.S. market. TechCrunch adds: Perhaps predictably, one of the first US-based offerings from the company often referred to as "the Netflix of China" will be a content platform. And, as with just about everything else at today's event, LeEco's coming out swinging. The list of partners for LeEco Live includes MGM, Lionsgate, Vice, Showtime, Sling and Magnolia Pictures, along with publication partners like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, to name but a few. From another CNET report, which lists the other things that LeEco announced today: UMax 85 TV is LeEco's flagship 4K smart television. It's 85 inches, comes with 4GB in RAM and 64GB in storage and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It will cost $4,999. Super4 X65 TV is LeEco's second biggest 4K smart television at 65 inches and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X55 TV is a 55-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X43 Pro TV is 43-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. LeEco has an upcoming prototype VR headset; it will have a gyroscope, bluetooth headphones and USB Type-C. LeSee Pro is LeEco's self-driving concept car. It will be fully autonomous and will have a connected interior to let people stream movies, music and work documents. LeSee is LeEco's semi-autonomous vehicle (level 3). It is internet-connected and has streaming content in rear seats. LeEco first unveiled this car in April.

Amazon Japan's Manga-Ready Kindle Has 8 Times the Storage ( 82

Amazon Japan has an unusual challenge with the Kindle: it not only has to cater to your typical bookworm, but to a local fondness for image-heavy (and thus storage-intensive) manga books. What it's going to do? Release a special model just for those readers, apparently. Engadget reports: The company has introduced a manga version of the Kindle Paperwhite with 32GB of storage, or eight times as much space as the run-of-the-mill 4GB model. You could cram every single volume of Asari-chan, Kochikame and Naruto into this e-reader, Amazon says. The manga Kindle is available for pre-order now, with pricing commanding a slight premium over the usual Paperwhite. You're spending about $157 or $118.

Netflix's Big Bet on Original Shows Finally Seen Paying Off ( 90

Netflix shares jumped as much as 20 percent on Tuesday, after the company added 50 percent more subscribers than expected in the third quarter. Reuters adds: At least 10 brokerages, including Goldman Sachs and RBC Capital Markets, raised their price targets on the stock, praising the company's focus on developing original content. The video streaming company also said it was getting ready to spend $6 billion on content next year, up $1 billion from 2016. "The benefits of Netflix-produced original content including attractive economics and greater control are clear and we believe returns on original spend are high," J.P. Morgan Securities analyst Doug Anmuth said in a research note. Strong subscriber additions after two quarters of disappointing growth helped Netflix post a 31.7 percent jump in third-quarter revenue. Anmuth said he believed Netflix was on track toward 60 million plus subscribers in the United States and about 100 million internationally by 2020.A study by IHS Markit this month noted that both Netflix and Amazon are challenging major networks by upping spending on original shows. The study noted that Amazon and Netflix both had doubled spending on new shows in the last two years. Amazon dropped $1.22 billion in 2013 and spent $2.67 billion in 2015. Netflix's spending on original content rose from $2.38 billion to $4.91 billion over the same period.

Razer Acquires THX, the Audio Pioneer That George Lucas Started ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Most of us know THX as the logo that comes up when we hear that zooming sound at the start of a film in a surround-sound movie theater. The company is a pioneer in audio technology, and today, gamer gear maker Razer is announcing that it has acquired the majority of THX Ltd.'s assets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Irvine, Calif.-based Razer said that it has also hired the management team and employees of THX, which George Lucas started in 1983 to develop audio-visual reproduction standards for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, game consoles, and car audio systems. It will be an interesting match with Razer, which makes laptops and peripherals for game fanatics. THX will operate as an independent startup under its own management and apart from the ongoing business of its parent company. The audio technology business will have discretion to seek agreements with other product makers, service providers and financial partners apart from Razer.

More Unblocking Companies Give Up Their Fight Against Netflix ( 212

Earlier this year, Netflix announced it was going to block the VPN services that were circumventing the streaming service's geoblocking technology, and it seems in the months since many of the top VPN players have given up on finding ways to workaround Netflix's block tech. From a report on TechSpot (condensed): Australian company uFlix discovered that some of its users could no longer access Netflix. It said that a fix was coming soon, but, uFlix announced recently in a recent blog post that it has given up the fight. "As of today we are going to stop supporting Netflix as an unblocked channel. Unfortunately every time we set up a new network or find a workaround it is getting blocked within hours." Uflix isn't the only service to throw in the towel -- most of the other unblockers have quietly decided to stop trying to evade Netflix's geoblocks, as more customers complain they can no longer watch the streaming site. Popular VPN TorGuard had assured customers that the crackdown wouldn't affect them. But there is no mention of Netflix on TorGuard's website, and its shared Netflix server was taken offline four months ago.

More Performers Are Demanding Audiences Lock Up Their Phones ( 552

More performers -- and other venues -- are discovering a new anti-piracy technology called Yondr -- including comedian Dave Chappelle. Slashdot reader quotes the New York Times: Fans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr's form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.

'I know my show is protected, and it empowers me to be more honest and open with the audience,' says Dave Chappelle...But some fans object to not being able to disseminate and see live shows via videotape...

"In this day and age, my phone is how I keep my memory," one live-music fan told the Washington Post, adding "If you don't want your music heard, then don't perform it." But the device is becoming more common, and according to the Times it's now also being used at weddings, restaurants, schools, and when movies are being prescreened.

5-Year-Old Hosting Service AllMyVideos, No Longer Profitable, To Shut Down ( 58

Founder five years ago, is one of the most popular video hosting services out there, but it will be shutting store this month. Though millions of users visit the website every month, the company said it operated on "minus 20 percent" profit margin. "We are sorry to inform everyone that effective October 23, 2016 will stop accepting new uploads and the site will close fully at the end of the month," the site announced.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Co-Founder Announces Benefit Concert to Pay His Medical Bills ( 195

An anoymous Slashdot reader reports: "I was dead for about 8 mins. on Wed. eve," EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow posted last year on Facebook. "total cardiac arrest...sad to report, no Ascending Light." The cyber-rights activist told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had gone "down the tunnel of eternity and it turned out to be a cheap carnival ride." He paused for a moment. "Probably not cheap, though."

Yesterday Barlow posted a Twitter update announcing a big benefit concert in Mill Valley, California to help pay his mounting medical bills on Monday, October 24th. Performers will include Bob Weir (also of The Grateful Dead), Jerry Harrison (of The Talking Heads), Lukas Nelson, Members of The String Cheese Incident, Sean Lennon and Les Claypool, plus 85-year-old folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott, as well as "special guests."

Barlow's family describes the last 18 months as a "medical incarceration" with "a dizzying array of medical events and complications" that has depleted his savings and insurance benefits. They've also set up a site for donations from "his fellow innovators, artists, cowboys, and partners-in-crime, to help us provide the quality of care necessary for Barlow's recovery."
The Internet

Netflix Is 12x As Popular As Its Streaming Competitors Among Younger Viewers, Says Survey ( 44

Investment bank Piper Jaffray released a survey Friday that reveals just how much U.S. teens love Netflix. Out of the 10,000 U.S. teens surveyed, 37% of them watched Netflix every single day, while only 3% of them watched Amazon Prime Video and Hulu each day, respectively. That means Netflix is over 12 times as popular in terms of daily use. Business Insider reports: At the top of the pack for general video consumption, after Netflix, came YouTube (26%), which inched over cable TV (25%). This continued an upward trend for YouTube and a downward one for cable. Last month, analysts at UBS said Amazon and Hulu were closing the gap with Netflix in overall consumer satisfaction in the U.S. Amazon and Netflix were in a dead heat at 58% and 59% respectively. Hulu still lagged a bit, but was close to Netflix at 53% of people "very satisfied."

Shadow Warrior 2 Developers Say DRM Is a Waste of Time ( 99

zarmanto writes: Ars Technica reports that one particular game studio might finally get it, when it comes to DRM'ed game content. They're publishing their latest game, Shadow Warrior 2, with no DRM protection at all. From the article: "We don't support piracy, but currently there isn't a good way to stop it without hurting our customers," Flying Wild Hog developer Krzysztof "KriS" Narkowicz wrote on the game's Steam forum (in response to a question about trying to force potential pirates to purchase the game instead). "Denuvo means we would have to spend money for making a worse version for our legit customers. It's like the FBI warning screen on legit movies." Expanding on those thoughts in a recent intervew with Kotaku, Narkowicz explained why he felt the DRM value proposition wasn't worth it. "Any DRM we would have needs to be implemented and tested," he told Kotaku. "We prefer to spend resources on making our game the best possible in terms of quality, rather than spending time and money on putting some protection that will not work anyway." "The trade-off is clear," Flying Wild Hog colleagues Artur Maksara and Tadeusz Zielinksi added. "We might sell a little less, but hey, that's the way the cookie crumbles! We hope that our fans, who were always very supportive, will support us this time as well," Zielinski told Kotaku. "...In our imperfect world, the best anti-pirate protection is when the games are good, highly polished, easily accessible and inexpensive," Maksara added.

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