The UpStream

Amazon Signs Exclusive Summer Deal with Warner Bros

posted Tuesday Jul 24, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Amazon Signs Exclusive Summer Deal with Warner Bros

As Netflix continues to reign supreme after some of its detractors found their way back to the streaming service, competitors like Amazon Prime Instant Video are looking for new ways to bring subscribers to their content. Recently, Amazon inked a deal with MGM Studios for some classic movies and now the company has locked up deal, including a brief exclusivity, on a couple of popular shows. Amazon announced that it has signed a licensing agreement with Warner Bros to bring West Wing, Dark Blue, Fringe, Alcatraz and The Whole Truth to the Amazon Prime's Instant Video streaming service.

Amazon also said that both West Wing and Fringe will be accessible only to Prime subscribers for the summer and will not be available to any other competitor until the leaves start changing color. The fun part is that these shows will also be available for non-Prime viewers after the summer, something which is usually reserved for less-recent titles on Instant Video. Of course, also after the summer we will see these shows end up on Netflix and possibly Hulu but it is refreshing to see Amazon act in a proactive manner and provide the content for the first time through a legal streaming service.

Brad Beale, Amazon's digital video and content director, said,

Since launching Prime Instant Video, we've continued to expand both the quantity and quality of video content for our Prime members. Bringing Fringe and The West Wing - two shows with a devoted fan base - to Prime Instant Video first, is another way for us to add value for Prime members and to continue to give customers content they love.

While this isn't necessarily a ground-breaking thing for those who are for or against Amazon, this is another deal that the company has made to keep pushing their catalog of 18,000 videos into the 20,000-and-beyond range. So the question remains: is $79 a year for both free two-day shipping on Amazon.com and 18,000 videos worth it? Or are you still on a Netflix account paying $7.99 a month (for streaming) for 60,000 shows and movies? Let us know in the comments section and tell us if you will be making the switch for these shows.

HTC Sells Back $150 Million of Beats Electronics Shares After a Year of Ownership

posted Sunday Jul 22, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

HTC Sells Back $150 Million of Beats Electronics Shares After a Year of Ownership

Just a year after HTC acquired majority stake in Beats Electronics for $300 million, the company has decided to change its mind. Beats is buying back 25 percent of the shares sold to HTC for $150 million, the same price they initially sold them for. The decision has been marked as part of a "realignment" effort for Beats, which will now "provide Beats with more flexability for global expansion." How that will occur and why they didn't understand this concept a year ago is a bit confusing to me, however even with 25% stake in the company, HTC will be the largest outside shareholder in the company.

HTC will also be able to still have exlusivity to the Beats Audio technology found in their devices. However, things won't turn out so good for them as they are planning to post a $4.8 million loss at the end of this deal. HTC has said that they are selling the shares back due to lack of consumer interest in the audio technology in their phones. Many critics have also said that even with Beats Audio in phones like the HTC Rezound, they were unable to tell a difference in audio quality. For me, using the Rezound and the HP TouchPad, I can attest that having the tech in a mobile device makes my music stand out, especially in high-end car stereo systems.

I suppose the good news out of all of this is that if HTC isn't fully bought into the deal they thought was great a year ago, they won't have to lose all of their $300 million when Beats becomes overtaken by other headphone companies like Monster and Soul by Ludacris. Both of these companies offer new, ground-breaking, affordable headphones of all shapes and styles, without compromising audio quality or over-emphasizing the bass of a song for absolutely no reason.

Larry King Heads to Hulu, Brings a Half-Hour Interview Show with Him

posted Sunday Jul 22, 2012 by Nicholas DiMeo

Larry King Heads to Hulu, Brings a Half-Hour Interview Show with Him

On top of Hulu's great moves as of recent, like bringing original foreign programming to the network and introducing a brand new video player with a 10-second rewind, Hulu is continuing their progress by adding more content this week. Larry King, who has been off the air since December 2010, has brought a half-hour interview series to Hulu and Hulu Plus, in a multi-year licensing and distribution agreement.

The new talk show, Larry King Now, will show up on Monday through Thursday, sometime in the early evening, according to reports, and we've seen the first couple of episodes pop up around 7PM Eastern Time. So far, the guests have been Seth MacFarlane, Meghan McCain and Matthe McConaughey. King has said that his series will continue the same style as that of his CNN show, Larry King Live, in that he will offer up a mixture of high-profile people from political figures to celebrities. The show also looks to incorporate both content and social media into his new show.

Check after the break for King's and Hulu's thoughts on the new deal.

Verizon to Breathe Life Into Geek Squad

posted Sunday Jul 22, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Verizon to Breathe Life Into Geek Squad

Verizon has realized that small businesses are in desperate need of IT support and feel that they are in the right position to solve the problem. Actually, they feel they are in the right position to brand a solution from another company: Best Buy's ailing Geek Squad service. The two companies have teamed up to create IT Help Desk, a 24/7 computer solution service in which Geek Squad Agents will take phone questions and solve a myriad of computer problems.

Janet Schijns, vice president of vertical solutions and channels for Verizon Enterprise Solutions, said,

Technology innovation continues to unlock value and create revenue opportunities for small and medium businesses, which are the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. Our new offering allows business owners to tap into today's sophisticated wireless and advanced technologies with the peace of mind that trusted tech support is readily available anytime the need arises.

Verizon seems to think it is a partnership made in heaven. What does Best Buy think of someone wanting the aid of their Geek Squad service? Hit the break.

PC: Where All of the Real Gamers Are

posted Saturday Jul 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

PC: Where All of the Real Gamers Are

While Sony prepares the PlayStation 4, and Microsoft prepares the next Xbox, EA prepares for the PC. EA CEO John Riccitiello recently said in an interview with CNBC,

Just five years ago people said that the PC game business was in a radical state of decline because NPD said it was down 10 percent, 20 percent, 30 percent, year-in year-out... The fastest growing platform for video games today is the PC, but it's growing through subscriptions, through micro transactions and through downloads.

That is a little hard for me to believe - kind of. It all depends on what we consider PC gaming. If we are counting games like SimCity Social, then I can totally understand why he believes that. SimCity Social has seen huge growth over the past few weeks since launch. Riccitiello also believes there is huge growth in the full title business as well. In regards to FIFA 12,

We had five million players that first week and it's now july, and we've had no fewer than four and a half million players since then.

So, is it possible that PC is gaining traction? Hit the break for more.

Viacom and DirecTV Come to Agreement on Content

posted Saturday Jul 21, 2012 by Scott Ertz

Viacom and DirecTV Come to Agreement on Content

It's been almost 2 weeks since Viacom pulled all of its content off of DirecTV, but there is good news for DirecTV customers: the negotiations are over and you can now watch your Nickelodeon again. What happened to get Viacom back on the provider? An agreement worth $600 million per year for seven years to Viacom, a gain of over 20 percent above their previous agreement.

This is less than Viacom had hoped. The original request was for a 30 percent increase, which DirecTV refused to pay, prompting the provider to end their partnership and removing their network suite from the provider. To add insult to injury, Viacom decided to punish everyone for DirecTV's very reasonable decision not to accept a 30 percent increase in licensing fees, by blocking access to its own streaming services. Even Jon Stewart, who works for Viacom, thought the move was insane, mocking it on his show.

So, what did DirecTV have to say about the agreement? Hit the break for a quote.

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