Remember PLAiR? About nine months ago, the startup raised $2.1 million from Roger McNamee and Mike Maples’ Floodgate Fund, but wouldn’t say what for. (Spoiler alert: We found out anyway.) Never mind that. The company is finally ready to release product! And, well, here the product is.
As we expected, PLAiR is a sub-$100, dolphin-shaped dongle for streaming online video to your TV screen, either from a computer or any mobile device. The idea is to enable anyone to experience AirPlay-like functionality, even if they don’t have an Apple TV — or an iPhone or an iPad. The product debuted at CES and is finally ready to ship to consumers.
With a 1 GHz processor, 1 GB of RAM, and Wi-Fi capability, PLAiR allows users to stream all the content they care about, without having to buy a connected TV or worry about whether or not it has a certain app.
Viewers can plug it in to an open HDMI port on a TV and connecting to PCs through a Chrome plug-in or mobile and tablet devices via native Android and iOS apps. Once connected, viewers can watch any available online content or locally stored media in full, 1080p video resolution and Dolby 5.1 surround sound.
I got a demo of the device a few weeks ago, and it works more or less as advertised. On the web/PC side of things, PLAiR provides a landing page where users can find basically all their favorite TV shows through a single interface. Once they’re launched from a laptop or desktop, users can leave the page and surf the web, checking out other pages. And the mobile apps have a wide selection of freely available video content that can be streamed from smartphones or tablets.
Anyway, the device is for sale at www.PLAiR.com/store for $99. Oh and it’s available in three colors.
Everyone, it seems, is a Game Of Thrones fan. The fantasy series, which was spawned out of a series of novels by George R. R. Martin and adapted for HBO, just aired its third season premiere last night and a whole bunch of people were watching. The show touted its largest ever live audience during the broadcast, which is good news. The bad news is that it also had more people pirating the show than ever before.
The Season 3 premiere had an average of 4.4 million viewers at 9:00 pm on Sunday, which was greater than Game of Thrones’ previous record showing of 4.2 million viewers. That was for the Season 2 finale, which set the stage for the new season. It was also substantially higher than the Season 2 premiere, which had 3.9 million viewers last year. Over three airings, the premiere had 6.7 million viewers, which was above the 6.3 million that tuned in for the previous season’s debut.
Last night’s stats were impressive, but HBO can expect a lot more views when it counts on-demand, DVR, and online streams of the show. Last season, HBO reported that Game of Thrones had an average gross audience of 11.6 million people watching when non-live viewers were also taken into account. No doubt the larger live viewership will likely translate into a larger aggregate audience on HBO’s on-demand and streaming distribution channels.
That said, while the Game of Thrones audience is tuning in en masse to watch the show live on HBO, the number of people downloading the show for free is growing even more quickly, according to TorrentFreak. That shouldn’t be too surprising, as Game Of Thrones has been the most-pirated show over the past year.
But TorrentFreak reported that, after a quick look at the number of downloads from the premiere, Game Of Thrones appears to have become even more popular this season. A few hours after airing, hundreds of thousands of users were part of the swarm to download or seed the series to others:
A few hours after the first torrent of the show was uploaded the OpenBitTorrent tracker reported that 163,088 people where sharing one single torrent. 110,303 were sharing a complete copy of that particular torrent while 52,786 were still downloading.
How big is that? TorrentFreak notes that the previous record for the largest BitTorrent swarm “belonged to the season premiere of the TV-show ‘Heroes’ with 144,663 peers.” But that was just a single file. Considering that there are usually multiple versions of an episode being seeded at any given time, TorrentFreak estimates that more than a million viewers have downloaded the show since being aired last night.
In addition to the number of downloads TorrentFreak had more info, including a breakdown of where those downloaders are coming from. HBO has said in the past that many pirates of its shows are international viewers frustrated by the typical lag between the U.S. air date and when the show appears in other markets. And, for its part, HBO is working to collapse those windows.
But a quick look at the early Game of Thrones torrent stats shows that the number one market for pirates is actually the U.S., where nearly 13 percent of downloads were coming from. English-speaking markets like the U.K., Australia, and Canada were also big on pirating the show. Surprisingly enough, Australia, which has a population of a little more than 20 million, made up about 10 percent of the total. (That, by the way, matches comments that Martin made about a lot of the show’s piracy coming from the island nation.)
What’s clear from the data is that not all the pirated downloads are coming from markets that didn’t have access to the show in the hours immediately after airing, and in fact, that there’s a large number of viewers in the U.S. who just aren’t paying to watch the show.
That’s no longer surprising, of course, and it seems to be a fact of life that HBO is just willing to live with, knowing that not everyone is going to pay for cable plus a premium video channel like HBO just to watch one show. Then again, there are some who believe HBO could cash in on folks who love its programming, but don’t want to pay $100 a month to get it.
But if you think HBO is going to make that switch anytime soon, don’t bet on it.
Follow this link: Game Of Thrones Season 3 Premieres To Record Ratings, Piracy
CBS is today introducing a new iOS application for iPad and iPhone, which brings its television programming to mobile devices, offering full episodes for streaming a week after they originally air. Shows that air daily, including daytime and late-night programs, will be available 24 hours after airing, the network says.
The company also adds that it plans to expand this application to support both the Android and Windows 8 platforms later this year.
The new app offers many, but not all, of CBS’s top television shows. The company notes that the app will offer NCIS, The Good Wife, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, How I Met Your Mother, The Young and The Restless, The Late Show With David Letterman, Survivor, Elementary, and others. But some of CBS’s leading properties, including The Big Bang Theory and The Mentalist, are not available.
In addition, unlike streaming TV content often found on services like Hulu, Netflix or Amazon Video, for instance, CBS’s app is designed primarily to allow users to catch up on an episode they missed – it’s not offering all the episodes from a current season, or from seasons past.
The app will also offer viewers a social experience, starting with the launch of the Fall TV season later this year. At that time, the company will integrate social feeds, live events where fans can engage with CBS talent directly, and other second-screen experiences specifically for shows like CSI, Criminal Minds, Hawaii Five-O and NCIS: Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, users are able to personalize the app by creating a section of their favorite shows. They can tweet about the show or share to Facebook from the app, as well, or join in discussions with other viewers.
“Our online viewers not only want to watch their favorite shows on multiple devices, they want deeper engagement with the programs they love,” said Jim Lanzone, President of CBS Interactive in a release. “The new CBS App gives them the best of both worlds, letting people watch CBS shows on the best screen available for them, with a host of extra features that give them a richer viewing experience whenever and wherever they tune in.”
Notably, the move also allows for a new way for CBS to generate ad dollars for its content, as the app is offering ad-supported, or “sponsored,” programming. At launch, Buick will be CBS’s first partner on these efforts, whose participation means there will be reduced commercial breaks, as compared with traditional TV for the first several weeks after launch.
“We have been methodically and strategically finding new ways to satiate the appetite for our content on new platforms, while tapping into the tremendous revenue provided by doing so,” said Leslie Moonves, President and CEO of CBS Corporation. “Our announcement today achieves both of these objectives, while protecting our very healthy current ecosystem.”
CBS is the last network to launch some sort of streaming TV experience of its own on mobile devices. ABC has its ABC Player app, NBC has an app, and Fox has Fox Now. They all offer varying degrees of access to their television content, but none provide complete lineups of what the network has to offer.
CBS has been moving to bring its TV content to streaming services in recent months. In November, the company finally signed a deal with Hulu after years of remaining the broadcast holdout on the service. Like this new app, the Hulu deal didn’t include access to some of the network’s most popular shows, like Big Bang Theory, which remains difficult to watch on mobile devices (as is the point, apparently). However, this and many other top shows are available for streaming from the CBS.com homepage.
The company also signed an expanded deal with Amazon this February, bringing a handful of new properties, including America’s Next Top Model, Everybody Loves Raymond, Jericho, The L Word, Undercover Boss, and United States of Tara to Amazon’s Instant Video platform. Amazon and CBS previously had an agreement that offered users access to some new and much back-catalog content, including things like Star Trek, Frasier, Medium and Cheers. It also struck a minor deal with Yahoo to bring entertainment programming to Yahoo’s online property omg!.
For Vimeo, the David to YouTube’s Goliath, the focus moving forward will be on creating and delivering mobile video, according to CEO Kerry Trainor.
“Like many video platforms, we’re focused on where things are going with mobile video,” said Trainor. “One area we see evolving very quickly is mobile video creation, and like Vimeo itself, Echograph took the position of creating a high-quality experience for both creating and viewing.”
Vimeo has also positioned itself as a more high-quality, professional experience than YouTube, which has more volume and traffic, but a vast number of crappy, amateur videos.
According to Trainor, the purchase of Echograph has nothing to do with Vine’s launch into existence. “No, truthfully, it’s really not a reaction in any way,” said Trainor.
Vine was launched out of Twitter at the end of January, and has received quite a bit of attention for being a potential Instagram for video.
But setting Vine aside, Vimeo’s focus on mobile video creation is only rivaled by its focus on monetization. The company already has subscription services, upgraded tools for the upload suite, there is a smaller advertising business working on the site, and Vimeo recently launched a Tip Jar service that lets viewers offer monetary Kudos to projects they like.
Soon, Vimeo will roll out a Paywall option to content creators giving them complete control over what portion of the film can be seen (if any) and how much it costs to get behind the paywall.
In terms of competition, Vimeo doesn’t seem so concerned with matching YouTube’s level of volume. “There’s no part of the model for us that relies on volume of what’s being created,” said Trainor. “It’s more about giving people the tools to empower them to create video.”