The UpStream

Netflix Posts Surprising Q4 Profit, Attracts Connected-TV Owners

posted Sunday Jan 27, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Netflix Posts Surprising Q4 Profit, Attracts Connected-TV Owners

Netflix never ceases to impress us. The company has been rolling in a stream of success for a while now, even after upsetting its customers with a strange attempt at a brand split and price hike. In fact, over a third of the 800,000 customers that left because of the change came back in less than a year, proving Netflix' success with their offerings. This week, we're a little surprised to hear that the company has posted yet another profitable quarter, even after their problems this year, and remains one of the top dogs when it comes to connected TV owners.

Most recently, we learned that the PS3 was the number one player for Netflix streaming. Now we're also finding out, via NPD, that Q4 was another success for Netflix. NPD reports that about 40 percent of all the households that had an Internet-connected TV were streaming Netflix directly from that TV during the holiday quarter, with 21 percent jumping ship from over-the-top video services on the computer. More specifically, if we dive into the 18-24 demographic that number jumps beyond 50 percent, further proving that young adults are driving innovation and acceptance of these newer technologies. Staying with that demo, 25 percent stream Netflix from a laptop or PC, 16 percent stream from a tablet and 13 percent are using Netflix on their smartphones.

For more on Netflix, including the numbers from their very successful fourth quarter, join us after the break.

Atari U.S. Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Seeks Buyers

posted Sunday Jan 27, 2013 by Nicholas DiMeo

Atari U.S. Files Chapter 11 Bankruptcy, Seeks Buyers

It seems like this has been a bad month for old school gaming companies. We recently reported that THQ has sold off its assets to various companies and has closed its doors for good. Now, Atari has also struggled to find a hold in today's gaming market and the company has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company said in a written statement that it is looking to "secure independent capital for future growth, primarily in the areas of digital and mobile games." This is a little bit different though, as the filing is for the American division of Atari only, and it is a move to try and find buyers for the American branch to break away from its less-than profitable French parent company.

Atari has also mentioned in their statement that March 31st will mark the expiration of their contract with BlueBay, the company's leading investor and only lender. So far, no future lender has been found but Atari has been given approval to receive $5 million from Tenor Capital, which is a company whose expertise is in distressed lending, exactly what Atari needs, at least temporarily, to jump-start some of its newer digital projects.

Atari U.S. will have three to four months to look for potential buyers for its assets, which also involve the Atari logo and the entire game lineup for the company. To date, Atari owns or operates over 200 different gaming titles and franchises.

We hope that a lot of the titles and franchises will find good homes with other game studios around the world. After the very recent THQ sale, though, I wonder how many studios will still have enough cash-in-hand to continue to make acquisitions. Hopefully, all of the assets will end up going to one company who can carry on the Atari brand with the integrity and respect that the name deserves.

JJ Abrams to Direct Star Wars: Episode VII

posted Friday Jan 25, 2013 by Scott Ertz

JJ Abrams to Direct <i>Star Wars: Episode VII</i>

In potentially the weirdest news since Disney purchased the company, Lucasfilm seems to be bringing JJ Abrams in to direct the announced seventh installment of the Star Wars franchise. Abrams is pretty iconic in the sci-fi and alternate reality genre, creating the cult icons Lost for ABC and Revolution for NBC Universal. He is also responsible for films such as Super 8 and Cloverfield, both of which attracted large audiences.

Abrams has also recently taken the helm of another iconic franchise, and the one that makes this story strange: Star Trek. He is responsible for the reboot of the series in 2009 and the upcoming sequel later this year. Now, there is a long-running debate of Trek vs Wars, and I know very few people who feel OK with any mixture between the two (hence the massive failure of Enterprise). This decision, if true, could cut the massive success of the Star Trek reboot short by at least a few movies.

Abrams has said he has been approached to do the project, however, as a fan, he felt a little intimidated to take on the franchise. To be honest, I don't blame him. There have only been six films in the franchise, and only three of them have really been anything to be proud of (I'll let you decide which three they are). A beloved Star Wars film is something the original creator could not always accomplish, so for someone else to pull it off could be near impossible. On the other hand, Gene Roddenberry's original team were not able to continue making successes until Abrams came along, so maybe he is the man to pull this off, too.

So, here is the question: Trekkers, will you see a Star Wars film helmed by Abrams? Jedheads, same question.

THQ Sells Assets, Closes Doors

posted Friday Jan 25, 2013 by Scott Ertz

THQ Sells Assets, Closes Doors

Five years can make a big difference in the videogame industry. Five years ago, THQ was valued at over $2 billion; today, right around $72 million, or so would suggest this week's bankruptcy auction. The company, which has had a lot of trouble finding its footing in the modern gaming market, sold off most of its assets to former rivals, including Sega and Ubisoft.

Once upon a time, THQ made a lot of money working with licenses, such as WWE, UFC and movie titles from companies like Pixar and Nickelodeon. Unfortunately, there isn't enough interest in licensed titles like that anymore, so the company tried to branch out. Titles like Saints Row and Company of Heroes gained some traction, and even got the company the rights to produce a South Park title, announced at this past E3.

So, who got what and for how much? You'll have to hit the break to find out.

Microsoft's Surface Windows 8 Pro Debut Set

posted Friday Jan 25, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft's Surface Windows 8 Pro Debut Set

Since the announcement for the Microsoft Surface Windows RT availability, the question on everyone's mind was, "When will we see the Pro version?" Both devices were announced simultaneously, yet it is a full quarter later and we still don't have the high-end version of the device. While that is not exactly pleasant, we do have some good news to share: we have a launch date.

Surface Windows 8 Pro will officially be available in the US and Canada on February 9, just in time for Valentine's Day. So, what is so special about the Pro edition? The fact that it is a full computer: Intel Core i5 processor, Windows 8 application support, as well as classic desktop applications, which the RT edition cannot run. In addition, the Pro will come with a Surface pen, an enhanced stylus with Palm Block technology, is included, making it a great art device as well. With a stylus and a full version of Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, an artist can be creative anywhere they are.

There are more cool attachments and photos of the collection after the break.

Belkin Purchases Linksys from Cisco

posted Friday Jan 25, 2013 by Scott Ertz

Belkin Purchases Linksys from Cisco

Over the past two years, Cisco has been dumping many of its brands, many of which are consumer-facing, but all of them have been out of Cisco's strengths. Almost two years ago, the company cut loose its Flip Video camera business. A year later they closed up shop on the Cius tablet brand as well, not long after the announcement that a larger version would be launched. That larger tablet never made it into the world.

All of these closings indicated that Cisco had regained its identity as the leader in large scale networking. It was only a matter of time before they realized that their small scale networking business, best known to the public as Linksys, was outside of its core identity. That realization happened this week, as the announcement was made that Belkin, best known for low cost computer accessories, has agreed to purchase the business. With this acquisition, Belkin will account for 30 percent of the US home and small business networking industry.

How will the transition work and what does this mean for the Linksys brand? Hit the break to find out.

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