The UpStream

Newer
Older

Netflix Just Gave A Lot of Money to Chris Rock for New Specials

posted Saturday Oct 15, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Netflix Just Gave A Lot of Money to Chris Rock for New Specials

As Netflix moves towards 50% original content, the company has begun approaching unlikely people for new projects. One such unexpected content producer is Chris Rock, a comedian who hasn't toured in almost a decade and hasn't been comically relevant in even longer.

According to reports, Netflix has written a very large check to Chris Rock to produce 2 exclusive stand-up specials for the platform. These two specials are reportedly valued at $40 million, a number that will set a new record for stand-up specials for a couple of reasons. First, it is the most ever offered a comedian for a special of this kind. This fee is higher than Jerry Seinfeld or Louis C.K., some of the higher paid comedians in the industry.

Second, Chris Rock has been off the road for a long time. This contract for two specials, not just one, is a show of confidence in the comedian's abilities. Normally in a situation like this, a single special would be warranted, using it as a test of whether or not he can command an audience like he could a decade ago. Theoretically, this confidence comes from his performance as host of the Oscars, where he did very well.

The Oscars are not exactly a good measuring tape, though. Not all, and sometimes none, of the jokes are written by the host. Also, the audience is not there for a comedy show; they're there for an awards show. Any comedic reactions could be indicative of nerves over their nominations rather than a host's comedy styling and timing.

None of this is to say that Chris Rock is incapable of commanding a room. It's just to say that this is a lot of money on a hope that he is as funny as he once was.

read more...

Twitter's Corporate Sale Might Have Stalled Before It Began

posted Saturday Oct 15, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Twitter's Corporate Sale Might Have Stalled Before It Began

Since word broke of Twitter's interest in a sale, suitors have come, and suitors have gone. 3 weeks ago, the list was a who's who of companies interested in social and data. Today, the list appears to be empty, with the 5 major rumored suitors all backing away from the discussions.

The last potential bidder for the first round was Salesforce.com, a company that focuses on customer support and sales. Adding Twitter to the company's portfolio would have been a good move. Twitter is used by many companies for customer interaction. I have, myself, interacted with my cable company via Twitter to solve problems, and even gotten an issue resolved with our local grocery store.

Word this week, however, is that Salesforce has walked away from the table, leaving no serious bidders still sitting with Twitter. Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff said,

In this case we've walked away. It wasn't the right fit for us.

Twitter's next move has to be a big one. They are going to have to address the issues that have caused the bidders to leave contention. Likely, the biggest issue on the table has to do with Twitter's inability to attract new users. That has caused the company to lose around $2 billion over the past few fiscal years. The only way that Twitter can address this issue is in sale price.

The problem, of course, is that the price can only be minimized so much because there are stockholders with stock certificates that are valued at a certain amount. While the price dropped 6 percent at the loss of Salesforce, that is probably not enough to attract new bidders, or to bring back old bidders. The company is going to have to do something, though, if they want this sale to happen.

read more...

Valve Shows Off New SteamVR Controller Prototype

posted Saturday Oct 15, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Valve Shows Off New SteamVR Controller Prototype

Valve has put a lot of time and effort into its SteamVR program, and its partnership with HTC on the Vive headset. While headset hardware can set the platform apart from the Oculus to a certain degree, the idea of a headset with video playing is a pretty solved problem at this point, Where Valve can really set itself apart is in controller hardware, something that has been a bit of an overall loss in the industry.

At Valve's Steam Dev Days, an event which does not allow press but does allow smartphones and Twitter, the company showed off new controller hardware which seems to address the biggest issue with other controllers, including previous SteamVR controllers, the inability to open your hands. It also eliminates the grip buttons on the side of the previous model, instead sensing grip based on overall hand movement.

A good controller could be the feature that sets one platform apart from the others, or at least encourages sales. It is less than likely that a single accessory will determine the fate of a platform, but a controller is the thing that makes VR fun or a chore. Obviously we have not yet interacted with this new prototype, but seeing video of the controller in action is encouraging.

Of course, Valve is not known for their hardware, especially controllers. When they were still trying to make SteamOS work, the controllers were bad enough that the company decided to design the platform to allow for Xbox controllers instead. Hopefully they learned their lessons from the overall disaster that SteamOS was, and have applied those lessons to SteamVR and this new prototype controller.

read more...

Verizon's Views On Unlimited Data Might Have Already Changed Somewhat

posted Saturday Oct 15, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Verizon's Views On Unlimited Data Might Have Already Changed Somewhat

It was only 2 weeks ago that Verizon CFO Fran Shammo said on an investor call,

At the end of the day, people don't need unlimited plans.

As it turns out, that statement was either a deflection, very focused or misinformed. This week, Verizon began testing a new program called PopData, in which you can purchase small blocks of unlimited data. The program seems to be intended to provide this data in short bursts just when you need it. You can purchase 30 or 60 minutes for $2 or $3, respectively.

There are limitations to the program, though. First, of course, is that it is a test program, which means that not everyone can currently participate. If you are one of the lucky beta testers, though, you still may see times when you cannot add your unlimited data option. For example, if the network is currently under heavy load in the location you are in, Verizon will decline your purchase request. To allow for this restriction, Verizon requires that you keep your Location Services turned on while interacting with the My Verizon app when you add the data.

One restriction we expected to have but do not is on tethering. If you purchase a 30 minute block of unlimited data, you can use it to tether your phone to another device, essentially giving you short bursts of unlimited data for tablets, laptops and more. Usually promotions like this exclude tethering, which makes this a nice change of pace.

There is no telling whether this program will eventually succeed or not, nor do we know what Verizon will consider success. There are a lot of potential end-games here, including terminating the program, rolling it out nationwide, or discovering a demand for unlimited data and bringing that feature back as a whole.

Is PopData a feature that makes Verizon's lack of overall unlimited data an acceptable loss? Let us know in the comments.

read more...

Twitch Ditches Premium Tier, Introduces Twitch Prime

posted Sunday Oct 2, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Twitch Ditches Premium Tier, Introduces Twitch Prime

Since before Twitch was its own platform, the service has been advertising-based. Either you could be a free member and watch ads occasionally, or you could be a premium member for $9 per month and have the ads removed. This has been a winning feature, adopted by services like Hulu and YouTube. That concept is coming to an end for Twitch, however, at least as it is known today.

Announced at Twitch Con, the now Amazon-owned service will be doing away with the premium subscription service to Twitch and replacing it with what they are calling Twitch Prime. Exactly as the name suggests, the new ad-free option is simply part of an Amazon Prime subscription. So, in addition to free shipping, Instant Video and Music, Amazon Prime subscribers can now also watch Twitch ad-free to their heart's content.

For a company that is focused on increasing its Prime membership numbers, this is a smart move. However, from a customer standpoint, this could eventually become a problem. There's a reason that Netflix charges what they do for a single month of service. There is a particular cost to produce and license the content, as well as distribute it. Hulu and YouTube know the same thing, along with Groove and Spotify. So, why does Amazon offer so much for their $99 annual subscription?

It is likely that the intention is to build so much "value" into the subscription that they can increase the price of the service once again. They might also create tiers of Prime membership in the future. Of course, the other option is that they are using Prime to encourage people to continue using their services, keeping the brand Amazon in consumers' minds, thereby not caring if they lose a little money on the subscription.

For now, Prime is definitely a steal for the price and getting better with every feature they add to the service.

read more...

Microsoft Introduces New Feature to Protect Edge Users

posted Sunday Oct 2, 2016 by Scott Ertz

Microsoft Introduces New Feature to Protect Edge Users

The Internet is a scary and dangerous place. Ads served by networks like Google appear to be legitimate, but take you to downloads to steal your information or destroy your computer. Links shared on Facebook and Twitter appear to be news articles, but are actually serving malicious content. If you aren't paying attention, it can be easy to screw up your machine, and web browsers are the source of all of that turmoil.

Microsoft has a new idea for how to protect users of their Edge browser. The feature is called Windows Defender Application Guard, and it consists of running the browser within a very lightweight virtual machine. Essentially, this means that the browser will run within your computer, but will not have direct access to it. Instead, it will run within another, virtual computer residing on yours.

The advantages of this technique are incredibly positive. The browser cannot access your computer without your express permission. This means that anything that happens within the browser will be contained within the virtual environment. Code designed to change your homepage, search engine, system registry, etc. all will, if allowed, change the virtual environment. As soon as the browser is closed, the virtual environment is destroyed, taking with it any malicious code and cookies.

Unfortunately, with all major security protections come tradeoffs. For example, since cookies are destroyed, it means that features like saving passwords will be destroyed, too. You would not be able to click "save password" on a website and have it save between sessions, because that information is saved in one of those cookies being destroyed. There are also performance tradeoffs that will have to be made, as the browser is not running directly on your hardware.

Clearly, this feature will not be for everyone, but it is a good option for places that require additional security, such as secure facilities like banks and doctors' offices. It will also be good for common area computers in libraries and schools where people tend to not worry about security and also forget to logout of services like email, social networks, etc.

read more...
Newer
Older
We're live now - Join us!
PLuGHiTZ Keyz

Email

Password

Forgot password? Recover here.
Not a member? Register now.
Blog Meets Brand Stats