Techradar: YouTube has announced improvements to its free on-demand movie service, after signing deals with a number of major distributors.
YouTube has tapped up the likes of Sony Pictures, Lionsgate and MGM and will be showing classic content through the site.
Although YouTube has been offering free movies for some time, the titles available have ranged from the obscure to the bizarre.
The new deal will mean that more recognisable movies like The Buena Vista Social Club will be made available.
“This is one of many efforts to ensure that people can find all the different kinds of video they want to see, from bedroom vlogs and citizen journalism reports to full-length films and TV shows,” explained YouTube head of video partnerships, Donagh O’Malley.
“We hope film lovers enjoy the range of titles in this free library, whether catching up on a mainstream hit or delving into the vast archive of classic films from decades past.”
YouTube has also announced a deal with Blinkbox, which will offer more than 150 movies of its archive for playback on the site.
This is the latest in a long line of link-ups the site has been doing, but the first for movies.
So far YouTube has been heavily investing in its TV output, signing deals with Channel 4 and Five.
Hopefully getting BlinkBox on board will be the start of something special for www.youtube.com/movies.
Guardian.co.uk: Predictions that the internet would kill the television star appear to be premature. Just as the cinema survived the advent of home video, TV is booming despite the growth of digital media and popularity of social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
Viewers watched an average of three hours and 45 minutes of television a day in 2009, 3% more than in 2004, according to research published today by the media regulator Ofcom. TV continues to take centre stage in people’s evenings, boosted by the popularity of shows such as The X Factor, Britain’s Got Talent and Doctor Who.
Television’s popularity has also been boosted by digital video recorders (DVRs), now in 37% of households – and the introduction of high definition television, now in more than 5 million UK homes.
“Television still has a central role in our lives. We are watching more TV than at any time in the last five years,” said James Thickett, director of market research and market intelligence at Ofcom.
New technology offered viewers an enhanced, easy-to-use viewing experience, with 15% of all viewing time spent watching programmes recorded on to a DVR, he said.
“Unlike VHS, which was such a hassle to set up and record a programme that only a very small proportion of viewing was on video, DVRs give viewers the chance to watch the programmes they really want to watch. It is bringing people back into the living room.”
Commercial broadcasters should not rejoice too much, however, as DVR owners have the option to skip through the adverts.
The increase in TV viewing has also been driven by the growth in the UK’s ageing population: older people are likely to watch more television, with the average 65-year-old watching five hours and 14 minutes a day.
Older viewers were also more likely to say that the quality of television had deteriorated in the past year, according to Ofcom’s research, with 53% of over-65s saying programmes had got worse.
Digital television passed the 90% threshold for the first time last year, with 92.1% of homes having digital TV by the first quarter of 2010. The average weekly reach of multichannel television exceeded that of the five main TV channels – BBC1, BBC2, ITV1, Channel 4 and Channel 5 – also for the first time in 2009.
“More people are getting access to a greater number of channels and that’s translating into greater number of viewing hours per person,” said Richard Broughton, a senior analyst at the audiovisual research company Screen Digest.
“Various people have predicted that the internet would kill off television but we have always said that TV would be here for a long time to come. It’s much harder for broadcasters and production companies to monetise content online, and there are all sorts of things that broadcast can do that online can’t, such as high definition.”
Broughton said viewers were using Facebook and Twitter while watching the television, rather than switching it off altogether. “In many cases television is complemented [by social media platforms] and not necessarily a direct competitor,” he added.
“It’s interesting to see what comments people are making while you are watching TV, and set manufacturers are now looking at putting functionality on TV that would allow you to watch Twitter feeds or go onto Facebook while you are watching your favourite TV programme.”
Viewers are also watching more on-demand television on catch-up services such as the BBC iPlayer and ITV Player. Live television retains a unique appeal among viewers, however, especially for talent shows such as Britain’s Got Talent and The X Factor – both masterminded by Simon Cowell – and big sporting events such as the World Cup. Cowell’s two ITV1 talent shows accounted for four of the five most watched programmes of 2009, with the final of Britain’s Got Talent on 30 May taking the No 1 spot with an average of 16.5 million viewers.
The BBC1 sitcom The Royle Family was the most popular non-Cowell show in fifth place with 11.4 million viewers for its Christmas Day episode last year. EastEnders, Doctor Who, Strictly Come Dancing, I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! and Coronation Street made up the rest of the top 10 programmes, based on average audience, in 2009.
Ofcom said the growth in audience to video-sharing sites such as YouTube had begun to slow over the past two years.
Like television, the popularity of radio continues to surge ahead, with a new high of 90.6% of the population – 46.8 million adults – tuning in at least once a week in the second quarter of 2010.
However, the amount of time we spend listening to the radio has fallen, down 5.3% in the five years to 2009.
HD News: Manufacturers have long recognized the value of some form of integration between the internet and TV. Among a number of different approaches to achieving this integration is ‘Widget’ technology, which Samsung plans to introduce as an integral part of their high end LCD panels this year.
Intel and Yahoo are the driving force behind the new technology, confirming their intention to co-develop the Yahoo Widget Channel in August 2008. The technology enables TVs to connect to the Internet through “widgets,” bits of software that provided elements of web based content. Samsung and Yahoo! are hoping that the widget concept will attract the interest of third-party developers, opening up the HDTVs for more interactive content.
Samsung have already dipped a toe into the world of web TV integration with the introduction of InfoLive. InfoLive streams up-to-date information through RSS feeds, working in partnership with Yahoo!. The InfoLive service is operated direct from the TV’s remote control and has been designed so as not to ‘swamp’ the screen with content.
HD News: Manufacturers have long recognized the value of some form of integration between the internet and their flat panel TV’s; this integration is now taking shape.
The technology has been around for a while and the likes of Samsung, Panasonic and Sony now believe that consumers are ready to embrace the internet through a medium they previously reserved for TV programmes or movies.
These IPTV (Internet Protocol Television) enabled screens will eventually offer a whole host of streaming services over the internet and will arrive in Europe in Spring 2009.
IPTV is similar to ‘Internet TV’ but there are some subtle differences. Both use IP (Internet Protocol) to deliver their services, but Internet TV makes use of the global internet to deliver services while IPTV is delivered over a private managed network.
The Digital Living Network Alliance protocol offers another route to internet content on the TV. DLNA members share a vision of wired and wireless interoperable networks where digital content such as photos, music, and videos can be shared by compliant products from any manufacturer. DLNA offers the promise of a more generic method of bringing the internet to our TV screens.
TimesOnline: Dragging the internet away from the family PC and putting it on the television set has become one of the technology industry’s greatest challenges. After years of watching others fail to achieve it, Samsung believes that it is about to succeed.
This week the company will tell the IFA industry fair in Germany that it is partnering Yahoo! to provide content for a new integrated internet access service in its televisions. The InfoLive service will provide news, finance and weather information from Yahoo!, directed from the remote control.
Samsung plans to provide the service on Series 7, 8 and 9 televisions in Canada, Australia, and Singapore and in selected countries in Europe by the end of this year.
Samsung believes that it has surmounted the problem of navigation by not swamping the big screen but by adding bite-sized interactive choices. Users will be able to watch a programme while a tickertape of news items, share prices or weather forecasts runs in tandem with it.
Electronista: Vodafone UK on Thursday announced it would add ‘unlimited’ access to the Internet and email to its monthly cell phone plans as it tries to garner a larger share of the country’s highly competitive cellular market. The world’s largest mobile telecommunications network company does in fact limit the plan to 500MB per month, as per its fair usage policy. The provider noted use of its Vodafone Mobile Internet service has grown rapidly since its launch last summer, with users accessing popular networking sites, news sites and search engines most often.
Vodafone’s research shows social networking sites Facebook and Bebo are the most searched websites among UK users on their mobile web service, and also rank as number 1 and 5, respectively, on the most-visited list.
Engadget: Apparently, Japan’s minister of communications has big plans for the current iteration of the internet — namely, to stamp it out of existence by 2020. According to reports, Yoshihide Suga — the country’s communications minister — has announced that the Japanese government is hard at work on a newer, faster, stronger, and generally better looking internet.
According to Suga, the new network will deliver more reliable data transfers at higher speeds, be more resistant to viruses and crashes, and will be 60 percent more charming. The ministry hopes that in setting a timeframe and outlining goals for the system, the country’s technology industry will be able to have a hand in developing global standards while gaining leverage for themselves in the new market.
The Register: Within ten years, virtual worlds will be bigger than the Web itself. So says Philip Rosedale, the man who invented Second Life.
Speaking at the Stanford Summit, an annual tech industry conference, the Linden Lab CEO predicted that a completely-open virtual world architecture – much like the one he’s touting for Second Life – would result in an online alternate universe several times larger than today’s internet.
”In ten years, virtual access will be more prevalent than web access,” he said, evangelizing alongside several other virtual world mavens, including the godfather of alternate reality, Berkeley scholar-in-residence Jaron Lanier.
Considering the massive amounts of computing power required by these 3D worlds, Rosedale’s future virtual landscape would sit atop a hardware infrastructure that makes Google’s network of servers look piddling. “Google now has about 100 thousand machines,” he said. “In ten years, virtual worlds will have hundreds of millions.”
Product Reviews Net: Do you like the idea of having your own personal trainer in your own home with out even having to go to the gym? This is now possible.This is the only cable motion Interactive Personal Trainer System around that connects to the internet and downloads exercise routines from virtual fitness professionals demonstrating the correct exercise form and pace on a conveniently placed 17″ LCD monitor.
So now you can enjoy the benefits of exercise with the guidance of professional personal training in the comfort of your home with out going to the gym and paying the membership.
APC: Most tech enthusiasts have wondered why web browsers on mobile phones suck so much. Mozilla Foundation CEO Mitchell Baker has been thinking about it too, and looking at how Firefox can be ported to mobile platforms.
Mitchell Baker: Yes it is a long‑term move though — it is not in the next weeks or months. The Mozilla Foundation’s mission in life is to improve Internet experience and that is increasingly on devices other than PCs. If we’re not there then we won’t be able to live the kind of vision that we helped grow. (…)
TWICE: About 25 percent of consumers use the Web as their primary pre-purchase resource, according to a survey conducted exclusively for TWICE by the market research firm Campaigners.
The survey’s purpose was to determine how consumers research technology products when they’re shopping.
Consumers named a number of factors to back up their pre-purchase research process, including their belief that the Web is convenient, available 24/7, includes a broad spectrum of opinions, doesn’t “use pressure tactics,” is unbiased and is free.
However, it seems “word-of-mouth” still has some cachè. The survey found that about 23 percent of consumers use their friends, families and co-workers as their primary source for information on technology products because they’re “trustworthy, reliable, honest, easy to understand and have first-hand knowledge.”
Sales associates also have a fairly significant influence with consumers; 19 percent of those surveyed chose them as their main source of information.
Other noted research sources and methods named by participating consumers included:
- magazines and reviews, 11 percent;
- speaking to someone who already owns the product they’re researching, 10 percent;
- TV, 9 percent; and
- other, 3 percent.