Comcast and Google emerge as top contenders to serve ads on Netflix

A person's hand holding a remote control in front of a TV screen with a Netflix logo.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | NurPhoto )

Comcast’s NBCUniversal subsidiary and Google are the “top contenders” to serve advertisements on Netflix when the streaming service rolls out its planned ad-supported tier, The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Netflix “is still in the early stages of developing the strategy and has explored a range of tie-ups in recent weeks,” the WSJ wrote, citing people familiar with the matter.

A deal with NBCUniversal would likely mean that “Comcast’s video ad unit, FreeWheel, would supply technology to help serve up ads, while NBCUniversal’s ad-sales team would help sell ads in the US and Europe,” the report said. The Alphabet-owned Google, of course, has plenty of experience serving ads, including on its own YouTube and YouTube TV video platforms. Netflix already uses Google’s ad-buying tools.

A deal with either NBCUniversal or Google would likely be exclusive, the WSJ report said. Comcast/NBCUniversal and Google aren’t the only contenders, as “Roku has also had early talks with Netflix about ad partnerships,” the report said. The Information reported last week that Netflix executives recently “met with representatives of both Roku and Comcast to discuss arrangements under which those companies would handle either the ad sales or the technical infrastructure for Netflix’s forthcoming ad-supported tier of service.”

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#comcast, #google, #nbcuniversal, #netflix, #policy

No hope for Hawkins? Trailer for Stranger Things S4 Part 2 is pretty bleak

We’re eagerly awaiting the two-part finale to the fourth season of Stranger Things. Will Hawkins survive?

It was admittedly an odd creative decision to split the fourth season of Stranger Things into two unequal parts. While Part 1 (consisting of the first seven episodes) was a bit bloated, it nonetheless told a compelling story, set up some very real stakes, and left viewers mulling over multiple cliffhangers. Fortunately, we don’t have long to wait to see what happens next, and Netflix just dropped an exciting new trailer foreshadowing what we can expect from the final two episodes, each of which clocks in at well over an hour’s run time. And things look pretty bleak for the Hawkins gang.

(Some spoilers for S4 Part 1 below, but we’ve tried to avoid revealing the biggest plot twists.)

Ever since the official trailer for Part 1 dropped in May, we’ve known that this season’s big bad hails straight from classic D&D lore. It’s Vecna, a once-powerful wizard who first became undead and then became a lich. Although Vecna (in the lore, at least) was destroyed, over time he achieved godhood. His left hand and left eye survived his bodily death and became powerful relics.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #stranger-things-s4, #streaming-television, #trailers

Trailer: Prey puts Predator series in refreshing new bow-and-arrow sights

I'm pretty sure that's the Predator in the mist, ready to battle in new prequel film <em>Prey</em>.

Enlarge / I’m pretty sure that’s the Predator in the mist, ready to battle in new prequel film Prey. (credit: 20th Century Studios)

On Tuesday, a wealth of new sci-fi and fantasy trailers emerged for feature-length films expected to launch on streaming platforms by the end of this summer. While most come courtesy of the “Netflix Geeked” brand, the biggest arguably comes from 20th Century Studios, mostly because it suggests some much-needed redemption for the Predator series.

Prey premiere film trailer.

Prey, set to launch exclusively on Hulu on August 5, twists the series’ naming convention to clarify that our favorite alien beast is now in the bow-and-arrow sights of an eager hunter. In terms of timeline, this film qualifies as a “prequel,” as it rewinds to 18th-century America and stars Comanches who had apparently not yet had their lives upended by invading colonists. The trailer features actor Amber Midthunder as the apparent lead and implies that she is the first in her tribe to discover a Predator. Her character, Naru, is nearly killed in a bear hunt gone awry, only to see the bear yanked away at the last second by a much more powerful adversary.

The trailer’s harrowing battles and chases point to Predator’s clear technological lead over its Comanche rivals, as it responds to a quartered bow with infrared laser sights and does some underground burrowing. Caucasian militiamen emerge briefly with era-appropriate muskets, but the trailer implies that they aren’t the heroes of this story; rather Naru’s mastery of Comanche weaponry and traps could give her the upper hand in protecting her brethren from a confusing alien force.

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#gaming-culture, #hulu, #netflix, #netflix-geeked, #predator, #prey, #the-predator

Dreamy first teaser for The Sandman helps kick off Netflix’s Geeked Week

Dreamy first teaser for The Sandman helps kick off Netflix’s Geeked Week

Enlarge (credit: Netflix)

It’s Geeked Week courtesy of Netflix, which means a smorgasbord of new teasers for upcoming series. Most notably, we got some new teaser footage for The Sandman, a teaser for the third and final season of Locke & Key, and a full trailer for the Resident Evil live-action series. There were also teasers for a new series from the creators of the masterful German series Dark, called 1899; Mike Flanagan’s The Midnight Club; the anthology series Guillermo del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities; and Wednesday, Tim Burton’s new series focused on a grown-up Wednesday Addams.

(Spoilers for prior seasons of Locke & Key below.)

First teaser for The Sandman, adapted from Neil Gaiman’s iconic graphic novels.

The Sandman

Sandman fans have longed for a screen adaption of Neil Gaiman’s iconic graphic novels for decades, and we’re finally getting it, thanks to Netflix, executive producer David Goyer (Foundation), and showrunner Allan Heinberg. Gaiman has been heavily involved as an executive producer and has regularly enthused on social media about his delight about how the series turned out. If this teaser is any indication, we’re inclined to agree. It certainly gets the look and feel of the graphic novels exactly right.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #locke-and-key, #netflix, #streaming-television, #trailers

The kids are older and not all right in final Stranger Things S4 trailer

Netflix has dropped the final trailer for Stranger Things S4 (Volume 1).

The fourth season of Stranger Things is almost here—at least the first seven episodes since the release is split in two. So Netflix released a spooky final trailer, chock full of 1980s horror tropes, on the heels of the revelation last month that the season’s Big Bad will be a Dungeons and Dragons villain named Vecna.

We’ve previously reported that David Harbour is returning as Hopper, along with the rest of the main cast. Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), and Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield) all return.

We also know the fourth season is the first to mostly occur outside of Hawkins since Eleven and the Byerses have moved away, and Hopper is in a Russian prison. Maya Thurman Hawke returns as Robin, Brett Gelman is back as Murray Bauman, Cara Buono returns as the Wheeler matriarch, and we’ll be seeing more of Priah Ferguson, who plays Lucas’ sassy younger sister, Erica. Robert Englund of Nightmare on Elm Street fame is among the new cast members, a nice little nod to classic ’80s horror. Englund plays Victor Creel, the former owner of the spooky Creel House featured in one of the teasers.

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#duffer-brothers, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #stranger-things-s4, #streaming-television, #trailers

A time paradox births a “freaking Kugelblitz” in Umbrella Academy S3 trailer

The third season of The Umbrella Academy will debut in June on Netflix.

The Hargreeves siblings return to 2019 only to find themselves caught in an alternate timeline where they were never adopted by their wealthy father in the official trailer for The Umbrella Academy S3. Instead, they must confront their alt-timeline counterparts, the Sparrow Academy, and ward off yet another apocalypse as they try, once again, to return home.

(Spoilers for first two seasons below.)

For those unfamiliar with the premise, in S1, billionaire industrialist Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore) adopted seven children out of 43 mysteriously born in 1989 to random women who had not been pregnant the day before. The children were raised at Hargreeves’ Umbrella Academy, with the help of a robot “mother” named Grace (Jordan Claire Robbins) and became a family of superheroes with special powers. But it was a dysfunctional arrangement, marred by the tragic death of one of the children, and the family members ultimately disbanded, only reuniting as adults when Hargreeves died. They soon learned that they had to team up to prevent a global apocalypse.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #streaming-television, #the-umbrella-academy, #trailers

Netflix’s ad-supported tier will reportedly roll out sooner than expected

A person holding a remote control in front of a screen showing the Netflix logo.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Anadolu Agency)

Netflix has reportedly told employees it plans to roll out an ad-supported tier by the end of this year, sooner than expected. Additionally, Netflix’s plan for an extra fee to fight password-sharing would roll out around the same time.

In a note to employees, “Netflix executives said that they were aiming to introduce the ad tier in the final three months of the year,” according to a New York Times report on Tuesday. The memo “also said that they were planning to begin cracking down on password sharing among its subscriber base around the same time.”

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings last month said the company plans to launch a lower-priced subscription tier with ads and will continue offering ad-free options. Hastings didn’t seem to think the ad-supported tier would roll out in 2022, saying it is something “we’re trying to figure out over the next year or two.”

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#biz-it, #netflix

Netflix stock plummets 37% as CEO says company plans ad-supported tier

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings sitting on stage at a conference.

Enlarge / Netflix CEO Reed Hastings at the Milken Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, on October 18, 2021. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Netflix plans to launch a lower-priced subscription tier with ads, CEO Reed Hastings said yesterday in an interview to discuss first-quarter earnings. Netflix revenue growth is slowing amid a loss in subscribers, and the company’s stock price was down about 37 percent today as of this writing.

Hastings said that an ad-supported tier is something “we’re trying to figure out over the next year or two” and that Netflix is “quite open to offering even lower prices with advertising as a consumer choice.”

“Those who follow Netflix know I’ve been against the complexity of advertising and a big fan of the simplicity of subscription,” Hastings said. “But as much as I’m a fan of that, I’m a bigger fan of consumer choice, and allowing consumers who would like to have a lower price and are advertising-tolerant get what they want makes a lot of sense.”

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#biz-it, #netflix

Stranger Things goes full-on Lovecraft in S4 trailer, and we’re here for it

Netflix has released the official trailer for the fourth season of Stranger Things.

It’s been a long wait, but the official full trailer for the fourth season of Stranger Things is finally here. The trailer is set to Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” and it brings full-blown Lovecraftian horror vibes. We get a spooky house with a mysterious grandfather clock, spontaneous levitation, an eyeless old man, and a brief glimpse of a grotesque humanoid figure sprouting the oozing tentacles that serve as the calling card of the Upside Down. Yep, we’re here for it.

(Spoilers for the first three seasons below.)

Netflix has been releasing various teasers for the last two years, each markedly different in tone—classic Goonies, Scooby-Doo, all those ’80s John Hughes movies—so it has been difficult to get any real sense of what S4 will be like, both tonally and in terms of plot. We’ve previously reported that David Harbour is returning as Hopper, along with the rest of the main cast. Winona Ryder (Joyce Byers), Finn Wolfhard (Mike Wheeler), Natalia Dyer (Nancy Wheeler), Noah Schnapp (Will Byers), Charlie Heaton (Jonathan Byers), Gaten Matarazzo (Dustin Henderson), Joe Keery (Steve Harrington), Caleb McLaughlin (Lucas Sinclair), and Sadie Sink (Max Mayfield) all return.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #stranger-things, #stranger-things-s4, #streaming-television

Apollo 10 1/2 review: A Linklater movie about nothing (and the Moon landing)

Young Stan, the star of <em>Apollo 10 ½</em>, is voiced by newcomer Milo Coy. As an adult, Stan is voiced by Jack Black. After <em>School of Rock</em> and <em>Bernie</em>, this is Black's third film with Linklater, making him an unlikely, late-career avatar for the Houston-born filmmaker. He's the DiCaprio to Linklater's Scorsese.

Enlarge / Young Stan, the star of Apollo 10 ½, is voiced by newcomer Milo Coy. As an adult, Stan is voiced by Jack Black. After School of Rock and Bernie, this is Black’s third film with Linklater, making him an unlikely, late-career avatar for the Houston-born filmmaker. He’s the DiCaprio to Linklater’s Scorsese. (credit: Netflix)

The new Netflix film Apollo 10 ½: A Space Age Childhood is a magic trick. It has no stakes, no conflict, no villain, no love interest, no money problems, and no one learns anything. Yet, by some miracle, it’s engaging throughout. I hesitate to describe it as the story of a boy named Stan (newcomer Milo Coy) who grew up next to the Manned Spacecraft Center during the Apollo program. Why? Because “story” implies actions leading to other actions, and that’s not what Apollo 10 ½ is about. To quote Homer Simpson, “It’s just a bunch of stuff that happened.”

The movie is the work of filmmaker Richard Linklater, who, like Stan, was born and raised in Houston. Apollo 10 ½ is Linklater’s Roma or Belfast: a semi-autobiographical love letter to the time and place that formed him. (He could have called it Clear Lake.) Perhaps its closest analog is The Tree of Life by fellow Texan Terrence Malick. Both films involve children playing in mists of DDT amid “long summer days of play and idleness” while cosmic things they don’t fully comprehend happen nearby.

Air Bud, meet space Stan

Apollo 10 ½ is narrated by an adult Stan (Jack Black, Jumanji) in the present day, and the result is like a better version of something you might hear in a bar. Adult Stan tells things out of order, goes on about extraneous details, and introduces characters but forgets to do anything with them. All the while, in the background, humans are about to land on the Moon. Imagine a Linklater classic like Slacker or Dazed and Confused, then add the Texas space race and a sprinkle of rotoscoped psychedelia, and you get the idea.

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#animated-movie, #apollo-10-1-2, #apollo-program, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #richard-linklater

Russian Doll S2 trailer is a trippy time-traveling delight

Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett (return for the upcoming second season of the Netflix series, Russian Doll.

A mysterious portal through time opens up in the New York City subway in the first trailer for the second season of Russian Doll, Netflix’s Emmy Award-winning sci-fi dramedy that was an Ars Technica favorite in 2019. Co-stars Natasha Lyonne and Charlie Barnett (reprise their roles, and this time they face a different kind of supernatural phenomenon on their existential journey.

(Spoilers for the first season below.)

Co-created by Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, the season one plot centered on a chain-smoking game developer named Nadia Vulvokov (Lyonne), who died repeatedly the night of her 36th birthday party and kept looping back to the host’s funky East Village bathroom.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #russian-doll, #streaming-television, #time-loops, #trailers

Netflix fights password-sharing with test of $3 “Extra Member” fee

Woman relaxing on the couch and holding a TV remote control while watching videos on demand.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | cyano66)

Netflix will soon charge an extra fee for sharing accounts with people in other households in the company’s latest attempt to reduce the password-sharing that has been common among Netflix users for years. The fee will roll out in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru “over the next few weeks” and potentially go worldwide at a later date.

“Members on our Standard and Premium plans will be able to add sub accounts for up to two people they don’t live with—each with their own profile, personalized recommendations, login and password—at a lower price: 2,380 CLP in Chile, 2.99 USD in Costa Rica, and 7.9 PEN in Peru,” Netflix said in an announcement yesterday. Based on current conversion rates, 2,380 CLP is about $2.98 USD and 7.9 PEN is about $2.12 USD.

The new fee will be paired with the ability for users to transfer profile information including their viewing history and watchlist to a new account or an Extra Member account. After rolling out the fee and profile transfers in Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru, Netflix will “be working to understand the utility of these two features for members in these three countries before making changes anywhere else in the world,” the company said.

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#biz-it, #netflix

Netflix to leave Russia after defying order to carry state-run channels

A person's hand holding a TV remote control with a Netflix button.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Christopher Ames)

Netflix is suspending its streaming service inside Russia amid the country’s war against Ukraine and a new law that would require it to carry Russian state-owned channels.

“Given the circumstances on the ground, we have decided to suspend our service in Russia,” Netflix told Ars and other media outlets. Netflix stopped letting people in Russia sign up for new subscriptions and will prevent renewal of any existing subscriptions, a Netflix spokesperson told Ars. Once a subscriber’s monthly billing period ends, the person’s service will be halted.

Netflix previously said it would not comply with Russia’s “Vitrina TV law,” which would require it to carry 20 free-to-air Russian channels. “Given the current situation, we have no plans to add these channels to our service,” Netflix told media outlets last week.

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#netflix, #policy, #russia, #tiktok, #ukraine

Review: Bigbug is a sparkling comedy that lifts the spirits and dazzles the eyes

Household robots lock a group of bickering suburbanites in a house to protect them from an android uprising in Bigbug, a new film from visionary French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

There’s been a fair amount of controversy in Hollywood about streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Studios, and Hulu shifting from merely showing films to actually producing them. I generally think the development is a positive one, especially for innovative mid-budget films that might otherwise never see the light of day. Case in point: Without Netflix, I might never have had the privilege of watching the delightfully quirky Bigbug, the latest film from visionary French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

(Some spoilers below but no major reveals.)

Any new film from Jeunet is an unequivocal treat. I’ve been a fan ever since his brilliant debut feature film, the 1991 post-apocalyptic (very) dark comedy, Delicatessen, co-directed with Marc Caro. The inhabits of a rundown tenement in France must rely on a butcher named Clapet (Jean-Claude Dreyfus), who runs the shop on the ground floor, for meat because food is in such short supply. The source of that meat? Clapet hires desperate men as cheap labor, then kills and butchers them.

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#bigbug, #entertainment, #film, #film-review, #gaming-culture, #jean-pierre-jeunet, #netflix, #streaming-television

Review: Space Force S2 retains the comedic magic, but it’s starting to lose its luster

(l-r) Ben Schwartz as Tony Scarapiducci; Tawny Newsome as Angela Ali; Steve Carell as General Mark Naird; Jimmy O. Yang as Dr. Chan Kaifang; Don Lake as Brigadier General Bradley Gregory; Diana Silvers as Erin Naird; and John Malkovich as Dr. Adrian Mallory.

Enlarge / (l-r) Ben Schwartz as Tony Scarapiducci; Tawny Newsome as Angela Ali; Steve Carell as General Mark Naird; Jimmy O. Yang as Dr. Chan Kaifang; Don Lake as Brigadier General Bradley Gregory; Diana Silvers as Erin Naird; and John Malkovich as Dr. Adrian Mallory. (credit: Netflix)

The Netflix absurdist comedy Space Force was an Ars favorite in 2020, easily winning a spot on our annual list of best TV shows. We loved the show’s wickedly sly humor, absurdist set-ups, and unexpected heart. It’s finally back with a second season, and while much of the old magic remains intact, it’s starting to lose its luster just a bit—perhaps because we only got seven episodes instead of ten (thanks, never-ending pandemic).

(Spoilers for S1 below.)

As we’ve reported previously, the series was created by Steve Carell and Greg Daniels (who also created Parks and Recreation and Upload). Space Force was inspired in part by the Trump administration’s announcement that it would establish a national Space Force. Carell plays four-star general Mark Naird, a decorated pilot with dreams of running the Air Force.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #space-force, #streaming-television, #trailers

Review: An archivist gets drawn into a spooky cold case in addictive Archive 81

Dina Shihabi co-stars as Melody Pendras, a documentary filmmaker whose fire-damaged 1994 tapes end up in the hands of archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) in the Netflix series <em>Archive 81</em>. It's loosely based on a podcast of the same name.

Enlarge / Dina Shihabi co-stars as Melody Pendras, a documentary filmmaker whose fire-damaged 1994 tapes end up in the hands of archivist Dan Turner (Mamoudou Athie) in the Netflix series Archive 81. It’s loosely based on a podcast of the same name. (credit: Netflix)

A troubled archivist finds himself drawn into the mystery of a woman who disappeared two decades ago in Archive 81, a new horror series from Netflix. Technically, the show belongs to the found footage subgenre of horror, but tonally, this spookily addictive eight-episode series evokes classic supernatural horror fare like Rosemary’s Baby—exactly what one should expect when James Wan (of the Insidious and Conjuring franchises) is among the producers.

(Some spoilers below, but no major reveals.)

The series is loosely based on the popular found footage podcast of the same name created by Daniel Powell and Marc Sollinger, in which the creators play fictionalized versions of themselves. The podcast tells the story of Daniel Powell, an archivist who goes missing after taking a job with the Housing Historical Committee of New York State. After Daniel’s disappearance, his best friend Mark Sollinger finds hundreds of hours of audio tapes that Daniel had been archiving; the audio features interviews with residents in a high-rise building in 1994. Mark releases the tapes in the form of a podcast. The podcast is now in its third season.

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#archive-81, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #streaming-television, #tv-reviews

Netflix cites “more entertainment choices than ever,” raises prices again

Netflix cites “more entertainment choices than ever,” raises prices again

Enlarge (credit: Aurich Lawson | Getty Images)

On Friday, Netflix confirmed plans to raise prices for its video-streaming services in North America for the seventh time in 11 years.

Unlike many previous Netflix price hikes, this year’s bump hits all three subscription options. In the United States, the “basic” tier, which is capped at 720p and includes other limits, receives its first increase in three years, jumping $1 to $9.99 per month. The 1080p “standard” tier goes up $1.50 to $15.49 per month. And the 4K “premium” tier jumps $2 to $19.99 per month. Canadian customers can expect similar jumps in prices for all three tiers as well.

Netflix says the price increases will roll out in phases to existing customers based on their billing cycles, and all customers will get no less than 30 days’ notice before the higher prices go into effect. Brand-new customers must begin paying the higher prices immediately.

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#disney, #disney-plus, #gaming-culture, #hbo-max, #hulu, #netflix, #video-streaming

Santa and the elves aren’t so cuddly in these Nordic Christmas horror gems

(left) A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) battles a mythic/demonic Santa in <em>Rare Exports: Christmas Tale</em>. (right) A young girl named Josefine (Sonia Steen) befriends a strange woodland creature and upsets the delicate balance of a remote island in <em>Elves</em>.

Enlarge / (left) A young boy named Pietari (Onni Tommila) battles a mythic/demonic Santa in Rare Exports: Christmas Tale. (right) A young girl named Josefine (Sonia Steen) befriends a strange woodland creature and upsets the delicate balance of a remote island in Elves. (credit: Oscilloscope Labs/Netflix/Sean Carroll)

Western Christmas tradition centers on the jolly figure of Santa Claus and his workshop manned by adorably cheery elves at the North Pole. Fantasy is dominated by figures like J.R.R. Tolkien’s majestic elves in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, inspired by Old English poetry.  But there are other, darker incarnations of elvish creatures in folklore from around the world.

If you’re in the mood for something a bit different for your holiday entertainment this weekend, I highly recommend a Christmas double feature drawing inspiration from Nordic folklore:  Elves, a new Danish series that debuted on Netflix last month, and a delightful 2010 Finnish film called Rare Exports: A Christmas Tale (2010).

(Some spoilers below but no major reveals.)

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#christmas-horror, #elves, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #mythology, #netflix, #streaming-television

I don’t want another Netflix adaptation—I want Mega Man Legends 3

Screenshot from Mega Man video game.

(credit: Capcom)

Netflix seems to be on a mission of late. The streaming brand has been on a near-rampage, sourcing Japanese content with nostalgic appeal and turning it into live-action content with the “Netflix original” stamp. There’s always trepidation when hearing about an adaptation of an old favorite, but the latest Netflix adaptation I heard about stings more than usual. Not because I’m outraged by casting choices, character omissions, or use of heartless CGI—we haven’t gotten that far yet. It’s because I’ve been waiting for a different addition to the Mega Man franchise for nearly (gulp) 22 years.

When I hear the phrase “new Mega Man,” I presume it’s going to be the announcement of a new video game, and deep down, I always hope that announcement is Mega Man Legends 3. Decades later, I and many other fans are still holding out for a follow-up to the two PlayStation games (they were eventually ported to a few other platforms, including Windows) that challenged, entertained, and mesmerized me starting in 1998.

Since Mega Man Legends 2 came out in 2000, Capcom has offered me small return trips to the Mega Man universe, including 2001’s Mega Man Battle Network series and 2018’s Mega Man 11. But none continued—or, better yet, completed—the detailed, mysterious story of the Legends games, whose lore is loaded with themes of myriad familial bonds, independence, ingenuity, and coming of age.

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#capcom, #gaming-culture, #mega-man, #netflix

Big Tech firms should pay ISPs to upgrade networks, telcos in Europe claim

A person's hand holding a roll of 50-Euro notes.

Enlarge (credit: Getty Images | Alicia Llop)

The CEOs of 13 large European telecom companies today called on tech giants—presumably including Netflix and other big US companies—to pay for a portion of the Internet service providers’ network upgrade costs. In a “joint CEO statement,” the European telcos described their proposal as a “renewed effort to rebalance the relationship between global technology giants and the European digital ecosystem.”

The letter makes an argument similar to one that AT&T and other US-based ISPs have made at times over the past 15 years, that tech companies delivering content over the Internet get a “free” ride and should subsidize the cost of building last-mile networks that connect homes to broadband access. These arguments generally don’t mention the fact that tech giants already pay for their own Internet bandwidth costs and that Netflix and others have built their own content-delivery networks to help deliver the traffic that home-Internet customers choose to receive.

Today’s letter from European ISPs was signed by the CEOs of A1 Telekom Austria Group, Vivacom, Proximus Group, Telenor Group, KPN, Altice Portugal, Deutsche Telekom, BT Group, Telia Company, Telefónica, Vodafone Group, Orange Group, and Swisscom. They wrote:

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#big-tech, #isps, #netflix, #policy

#DealMonitor – Jina sammelt 30 Millionen ein – Yababa bekommt 15,5 Millionen – DocPlanner kauft jameda

Im aktuellen #DealMonitor für den 23. November werfen wir wieder einen Blick auf die wichtigsten, spannendsten und interessantesten Investments und Exits des Tages in der DACH-Region. Alle Deals der Vortage gibt es im großen und übersichtlichen #DealMonitor-Archiv.


+++ Canaan  Partners, Mango Capital und Altinvestoren wie GGV Capital, SAP.iO und Yunqi Partners investieren 30 Millionen US-Dollar in Jina – siehe TechCrunch. Das KI-Startup aus Berlin, das 2020 von Han Xiao, Nan Wang und Bing He gegründet wurde, setzt auf das Thema neuronale Suche. In der Eigenbeschreibung heißt es: “Our mission is to provide an open-source neural search ecosystem for businesses and developers, allowing everyone to search for information in all kinds of data with high availability and scalability”. GGV Capital und Co. investierten zuvor bereits 7,5 Millionen in das junge Unternehmen.

+++ Bauwens, Momeni und Althoff Hotels investieren eine mittlere siebenstellige Summe in limehome. “Bauwens und Momeni schaffen als erfahrene erfahrene Entwickler, Investoren und Manager von Wohn- und Gewerbeimmobilien in Bestlagen den Zugang zu einem breiten Angebot und Netzwerk. Althoff Hotels unterstützt mit der Erfahrung aus 35 Jahren Premiumhotellerie”, teilt das Unternehmen mit. Das Münchner Startup, das 2018 von Lars Stäbe und Josef Vollmayr gegründet wurde, mietet Wohnungen an und richtet diese als Apartments zur kurz- und langfristigen Miete ein. Investoren wie HV Capital, Lakestar und Picus Capital investierten in den vergangenen Jahren mehr als 30 Millionen Euro in die Jungfirma. Mehr über limehome

+++ Jetzt offiziell: Creandum, Project A Ventures und FoodLabs investieren 15,5 Millionen US-Dollar in Yababa. Das Berliner Startup, das von Ralph Hage, Hadi Zaklouta, Javier Gimenez und Kamel Semakieh gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als Lieferservice für orientalische Lebensmittel. Dabei setzen die Hauptstädter auf Same Day Delivery. Der Berliner Gorillas-Investor Atlantic Food Labs, inzwischen als FoodLabs bekannt, schob das Unternehmen vor wenigen Wochen an. “With the fresh capital, Yababa will accelerate it’s roll-out across Germany, with plans for rapid expansion in Europe and a goal of reaching sev cities by 2022. The company will build out its network of warehouses, broaden its offering, scale the supply chain and grow the team”, teilt die Jungfirma mit. Mitte November haben wir im Insider-Podcast über den Einstieg von Creandum und Project A berichtet. Mehr über Yababa

Der Trade Republic-Investor Sino investiert 2,6 Millionen Euro in Captiq – siehe FinanceFWD. Das FinTech aus Frankfurt am Main, das 2012 von Soraya Braun und Lorenz Beimler gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als Finanzierungsplattform für Ärzte, Apotheker, Juristen und andere Kammerberufe. “Das Unternehmen bietet Finanzierungen zu marktgängigen Konditionen bis 250.000 Euro an”, heißt es in der Selbstbeschreibung.

+++ Fortino Capital, seed + speed Ventures, der Auxxo Female Catalyst Fund und Trumpf Venture investieren 3 Millionen Euro in Peers. Das Berliner Startup, das 2019 von Elisa Hertzler und David Tropf als Ausgründung von Trumpf, einem Werkzeugmaschinen-Unternehmen, gegründet wurde, erstellt mithilfe von Künstlicher Intelligenz individuelle Weiterbildungsprogramme für Nutzer:innen.

+++ Bayern Kapital, der Venture-Capital-Ableger des Freistaats Bayern, Basinghall, H&S Investment und “ein Business Angel aus dem bestehenden Investorenkreis” investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Conntac. Das Augsburger Unternehmen, das 2017 von Michael Faath, Benjamin Wöhrl, Christoph Keller und Rolf Winter gegründet wurde, entwickelt eine Self-Service-Plattform für Telekommunikationsanbieter, die es “Endnutzern ermöglicht, die Einrichtung und Entstörung ihrer Internetverbindung eigenständig zu lösen”.

+++ Der aws Gründerfonds, Mad Ventures und der High-Tech Gründerfonds (HTGF) investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Innerspace. Das 2017 von Sebastian Scheler, Bernhard Fercher und Andreas Berger gegründete Virtual-Reality Startup entwickelt Trainingslösungen für Anwendungen in der Life-Science-Industrie. “Das Startup wird mit dem Investment seine Marktpräsenz weiter ausbauen und nutzt die Mittel zur Aufstockung seines Vertriebs- und Consulting-Teams”, heißt es in der Presseaussendung.

+++  Caesar Business Angels, Christian Willem, DTC Ventures, Felix Wolf, Impact Bakery, Jakob Fricke, Julius Göllner, Julius Rüßmann, Kay Uplegger, Mathis Schuller, Matthias Steinforth, Simon Biela, Moritz Birke, Oliver Stahl und Robert Kronekker investieren eine siebenstellige Summe in Kombuchery. Das Food-Startup aus Berlin, das 2019 von Maximilian Seedorf gegründet wurde, setzt auf Erfrischungsgetränke auf Kombucha-Basis.


+++ Der britische Private-Equity-Fonds AnaCap Financial Partners übernimmt Fintus, einen Finanz-Software-Anbieter aus Frankfurt am Main. “Die Bewertung dürfte im mittleren zweistelligen Millionen-Bereich liegen, berichtet FinanceFWD. Das Unternehmen, das 2016 von Benjamin Hermanns gegründet wurde, positioniert sich als Low-Code-Banking-Plattform. Das Unternehmen verspricht dabei: “Unsere agile Transformationsplattform integriert Ihr Kernbankensystem von den Frontends bis in die Backends. Damit vermeiden Sie einen aufwendigen und riskanten Austausch”. AnaCap übernahm zuletzt auch die Mehrheit am Identitätsdienst WebID.

+++ Die polnische DocPlanner Group, 2012 gegründet, übernimmt die Arzt-Patienten-Plattform jameda. “jameda und Docplanner bündeln ihre Stärken, um innovative Lösungen zu entwickeln, die Arztpraxen effizient und erfolgreich machen, sowie gelingende Beziehungen zwischen Ärzt:innen und Patient:innen ermöglichen. Um dieses Ziel zu erreichen, wird das jameda Team in den nächsten zwei bis drei Jahren um mindestens 200 neue Mitarbeiter:innen wachsen. In diesem Zeitraum wird Docplanner mehr als eine Viertel Milliarde Euro in den deutschen Markt investieren”, teilen die Unternehmen mit. Der Medienkonzern Hubert Burda Media übernahm jameda 2015 und zahlte damals 46,8 Millionen für das Unternehmen, das 2007 von Michael Nowak, Barbara Nowak, Jan Richter und Markus Reif gegründet wurde.

Scanline VFX
+++ Der amerikanische Streaming-Gigant Netflix übernimmt das Münchner Unternehmen Scanline VFX. Das Unternehmen, das 1989 gegründet wurde, setzt auf das Fluid-Renderingsystem Flowline. “Scanline is known for its complex, photorealistic effects and expertise in virtual production. It’s also done an extraordinary job of supporting our creators on everything from the above-mentioned VFX achievements to those in upcoming titles like Don’t Look Up, The Gray Man, Slumberland, The Adam Project and Stranger Things 4.”, teilt Netflix mit.

Newsletter: Über neue Startups berichten wir zuerst in unserem Startup-Radar-Newsletter. Der Newsletter erscheint einmal pro Woche und stellt junge Startups vor, die noch nicht jeder kennt. Den Newsletter gibt es aber nur im kostenpflichtigen Abo. Jetzt 30 Tage kostenlos testen.

Startup-Jobs: Auf der Suche nach einer neuen Herausforderung? In der unserer Jobbörse findet Ihr Stellenanzeigen von Startups und Unternehmen.

#aktuell, #anacap, #anacap-financial-partners, #augsburg, #auxxo-female-catalyst-fund, #aws-grunderfonds, #basinghall, #bauwens, #bayern-kapital, #berlin, #canaan-partners, #captiq, #conntac, #creandum, #docplanner, #fintech, #fintus, #food, #foodlabs, #fortino-capital, #frankfurt-am-main, #hs-investment, #high-tech-grunderfonds, #innerspace, #jameda, #jina, #kombuchery, #limehome, #mad-ventures, #mango-capital, #momeni, #munchen, #netflix, #peers, #project-a-ventures, #scanline-vfx, #seed-speed-ventures, #sino, #venture-capital, #yababa

Review: Reimagined Cowboy Bebop largely preserves beloved elements of original

It’s a daunting task to create a live action series out of one of the most trailblazing, influential anime series of the last 25 years. That would be Cowboy Bebop, a stylish, genre-busting neo-noir space western that earned universal acclaim when it debuted in 1998. Count yours truly among its many admirers. So I had some reservations about Netflix’s decision to adapt the original into a live-action streaming series—why mess with perfection?

Diehard purists likely won’t be happy; the new series is a different beast. But I found that Netflix’s Cowboy Bebop mostly struck a balance between preserving the most beloved elements of the anime and remixing them in fresh, intriguing ways for a new dramatic format. Is it flawless? Hardly. But it’s still pretty darn entertaining.

(Spoilers for the 1998 anime series below. Some spoilers for the live-action series, but no major reveals—except for one smallish one at the very end. We’ll give you a heads-up when we get there.)

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#cowboy-bebop, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #streaming-television, #tv-review

Star Trek: Discovery is tearing the streaming world apart

Pictured: Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun, Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, and Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer of the Paramount+ original series <em>Star Trek: Discovery</em>.

Enlarge / Pictured: Oyin Oladejo as Lt. Joann Owosekun, Sonequa Martin Green as Burnham, and Emily Coutts as Lt. Keyla Detmer of the Paramount+ original series Star Trek: Discovery. (credit: Michael Gibson | ViacomCBS)

Dan Leckie has been a Star Trek fan since he pressed play on a VHS tape of the original TV show during Christmas of 1991. Leckie, from Aberdeen, Scotland, was instantly hooked on the sci-fi series and its subsequent iterations and regularly attends conventions to meet up with fellow fans. But on November 16 he noticed something weird: Netflix had stopped promoting the first three seasons of Star Trek: Discovery—and previews of season four, due to launch on November 18, had also vanished.

What Leckie had spotted would soon become a point of outrage for Star Trek fans the world over: Netflix had lost the rights to the fourth season of Discovery outside of the US, and the previous seasons, too. They would now appear on Paramount+, the streaming service formerly known as CBS All Access and owned by ViacomCBS—but not until 2022, and even then, not everywhere. (In the US, Star Trek: Discovery has always streamed exclusively on Paramount+/CBS All Access.) And Star Trek is just the beginning. What’s bad news for Discovery fans now is yet another glimpse of the increasingly muddled future of streaming.

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#gaming-culture, #netflix, #paramount, #star-trek, #star-trek-discovery, #streaming

Netflix begins reporting viewer numbers for its biggest hits

<em>Squid Game</em> is currently the most popular non-English-language television show on Netflix.

Enlarge / Squid Game is currently the most popular non-English-language television show on Netflix. (credit: Netflix)

Netflix will begin regularly reporting viewership numbers for its top programs and films, a major shift in strategy for the streaming company that has carefully guarded its data over the past decade.

The company said it will report every week how many hours people spent watching its top 10 TV shows and movies, for both English and non-English titles, including Netflix originals and content licensed from third parties.

In its first release of viewer numbers on Tuesday, Netflix said its subscribers last week spent 149 million hours watching Red Notice, the action film starring Gal Gadot, making it the most popular piece of English-language content on the platform.

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#disney, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #nielsen, #streaming

Netflix Gaming starts to look legit with impressive League of Legends spinoff

Last week, Netflix Gaming formally launched in a way we didn’t predict when the service was first teased earlier this year. Instead of churning out games for home consoles or creating a cloud-based streaming service a la Google Stadia and others, Netflix opted to create a smartphone-exclusive gaming portal, free to anyone who has a paid Netflix subscription.

What’s more, Netflix Gaming’s day-one library consisted entirely of games that had previously launched on Android, with a mix of licensed Stranger Things games and generic tap-action smartphone fare. But game development exec Mike Verdu teased more to come: “Just like our series, films, and specials, we want to design games for any level of play and every kind of player, whether you’re a beginner or a lifelong gamer,” he said at the time.

Today, Netflix takes the wraps off a more interesting game for its smartphone-only service: a previously unannounced League of Legends spinoff with promising gameplay and serious developer pedigree.

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#bit-trip, #bit-trip-runner, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #netflix-gaming

Eleven tries to adjust to SoCal life in underwhelming Stranger Things S4 teaser

The fourth season of Stranger Things will debut on Netflix in 2022.

It’s Stranger Things Day, marking the anniversary of Will Byers’ mysterious disappearance  (on November 6, 1983) in S1 of the hugely popular Netflix series. The streaming giant is marking the occasion with the release of yet another teaser for S4—and it’s frankly a bit underwhelming.

Netflix has been trickling out teasers for S4 over the last year or so, and tonally, they’ve been all over the place. For instance, the teaser that appeared in May was classic Stranger Things, ominously hinting at the return of Eleven ‘s (Millie Bobby Brown) childhood tormenter and “Papa,” Dr. Martin Brenner (Matthew Modine). Brenner was supposedly killed by the Demogorgon in S1, but there have been mentions of his possible survival. We already knew that David Harbour will be returning as Hopper, along with the rest of the main cast: Winona Ryder, Finn Wolfhard, Natalia Dyer, Noah Schnapp, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Caleb McLaughlin, and Sadie Sink.

We also know it will be the first season to take place largely outside of Hawkins, since Eleven and the Byers have moved away, and Hopper seems to be imprisoned by the Russians. Maya Thurman-Hawke returns as Robin, Brett Gelman will be back as Murray Bauman, Cara Buono returns as the Wheeler matriarch, and we’ll be seeing more of Priah Ferguson, who plays Lucas’ sassy younger sister, Erica. Among the new cast members is Robert Englund of Nightmare on Elm Street fame, which is a nice little link to classic ’80s horror.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #stranger-things, #stranger-things-s4, #streaming-television, #trailers

Review: Army of Thieves is a smart, witty, and ultimately poignant heist thriller

A humble, nerdy bank teller with a secret passion for safecracking finds himself taking on the heist challenge of a lifetime in Army of Thieves, a prequel to Zack Snyder’s hugely entertaining Army of the Dead, which debuted earlier this year on Netflix. Army of Thieves is light on zombies but brings the same sly humor and thrilling action to its story, making it a beautifully crafted entertaining romp in its own right.

(Spoilers for Army of the Dead below. Mostly mild spoilers for Army of Thieves, but if you haven’t seen its predecessor, there is one major spoiler at the end. We’ll give you a heads up when we get there.)

Army of the Dead followed Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) and his team of mercenaries as they ventured into zombie-infested Las Vegas to recover millions in cash from a casino vault. Brain-munching carnage ensued. In addition to Tig Notaro’s delightfully cynical pilot and Samantha Win’s martial arts fireworks, viewers loved the dynamic between zombie-killing-machine Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) and the brilliantly nerdy, high-strung German safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer). Not only did the two forge a believable (albeit reluctant) bond, Dieter’s well-timed high-pitched screams whenever a zombie charged was one of several running gags. So naturally Dieter got his own prequel. And you know what? Schweighöfer’s standout character deserved one.

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#army-of-the-dead, #army-of-thieves, #entertainment, #film-review, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #streaming-television

Netflix now comes with Android video games for paying subscribers

Only five Android-only games for now, but Ars Technica is famliar with more Netflix Games projects for smartphones in the pipeline.

Enlarge / Only five Android-only games for now, but Ars Technica is famliar with more Netflix Games projects for smartphones in the pipeline. (credit: Netflix )

After a region-limited tease earlier this year, Netflix’s gaming push officially begins this week in the form of a global update to the streaming company’s Android app. Starting tomorrow, all Netflix subscribers on Android will begin seeing a row labeled either “N Games” or “Games On Mobile” inside the normal video-streaming app. The games are exclusively for smartphones and tablets.

And if you don’t want to wait, you don’t have to. The games are now live.

Today’s announcement confirms what we already learned after a test version launched in late August exclusively in Poland. Netflix Games are downloaded to your Android device as opposed to being streamed from Netflix’s cloud servers. (Subscription services like Nvidia GeForce Now, Xbox Game Streaming, and Amazon Luna remain poised to vie for the “Netflix of gaming” crown, as they stream computationally intense games from server farms to your favorite screen.)

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#android, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #netflix-games

There are ominous portents of the end of days in The Witcher S2 trailer

The second season of Netflix’s hugely popular sci-fi/fantasy series, The Witcher, returns on December 17.

It’s been two long years for fans of The Witcher, eager for a second season, but that long wait is nearly over. Netflix dropped a new trailer for its hugely popular sci-fi/fantasy series, starring Henry Cavill as a solitary monster hunter with magical powers.

(Some spoilers for S1 below.)

As I’ve written previously, The Witcher is based on the popular books by Andrzej Sapkowski. The series was one of the streaming platform’s top ten shows of 2019, despite boasting a fairly complicated narrative structure: three separate timelines spanning 100 years. It played a little fast and loose with the source material, but that turned out to work quite well.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #henry-cavill, #netflix, #streaming-television, #the-witcher

Bounty hunter Spike Spiegel is back from the dead in Cowboy Bebop trailer

John Cho leads an ensemble cast as Spike Spiegel in the Netflix live-action series Cowboy Bebop.

The countdown continues for the premiere next month of Cowboy Bebop, the Netflix live action adaptation of the popular anime series. The streaming giant just dropped the full official trailer for the ten-episode series.  As we’ve reported previously, the original anime series premiered in 1998. It’s a space western about a group of bounty hunters on a spaceship called the Bebop. Cowboy Bebop drew critical acclaim and became a cult hit thanks in part to its striking visual style and its strong thematic elements.

André Nemec is the showrunner for the Netflix series, having previously worked as a writer and producer on Alias, as well as the 2014 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. The director of the original anime series, Shinichirō Watanabe, is a consultant for the new show. Production was delayed in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but also because star John Cho (Star Trek, Harold & Kumar Go To White Castlesuffered an injury on-set, which required him to fly from the show’s shooting location in New Zealand to Los Angeles for surgery.

Cho plays lead character, Spike Spiegel, a bounty hunter born on Mars with a history of violent gang activity who is partial to fist-fights. Alex Hassell (Suburbicon) plays Spike’s former partner, Vicious, who is now a power-hungry Capo gangster from the Red Dragon Crime Syndicate. Daniella Pineda (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) plays Faye Valentine, a bounty hunter and con artist in debt from excessive gambling fees who spent 54 years in suspended animation after a space shuttle accident. Mustafa Shakir (Luke Cage) plays Jet Black, captain of the Bebop, and Spike’s ex-cop bounty hunter partner who has a cybernetic arm. And Elena Satine (Revenge) plays Julia, a stunning femme fatale who haas captivated both Spike and Vicious as rivals for her affection.

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#cowboy-bebop, #entertainment, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #trailers

Review: Locke and Key comes back better than ever with action-packed S2

The present generation of Locke descendants—Tyler (Connor Jessup), Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), and Kinsey (Emilia Jones)—still have a lot to learn about the magical keys that are their birthright.

Enlarge / The present generation of Locke descendants—Tyler (Connor Jessup), Bode (Jackson Robert Scott), and Kinsey (Emilia Jones)—still have a lot to learn about the magical keys that are their birthright.

The Locke siblings face a demonic dynamic duo intent on bringing chaos to our world and must defend themselves, armed with only a handful of magical keys, in the second season of Locke and Key. In our 2020 year-end TV roundup, I wrote that Netflix’s adaptation of the comic book series, by Joe Hill and Gabe Rodriguez, successfully brought “the fabled Key House and the darkly fantastical world of the comics to vivid life.” The second season is even better: it’s faster-paced, it has intriguing character arcs, and it delves a bit more into the history and mythology behind Key House and its magical keys.

(Spoilers for season 1 below. Some season 2 spoilers, but no major reveals.)

Longtime fans of the comics can attest to the powerful allure of the basic premise: three traumatized siblings whose father was recently murdered return to dad’s ancestral home, Key House, with their mother and discover that the house is filled with hidden magical keys that “whisper” to the children until they find them. The TV series preserves that allure. Only kids can hear the keys whispering, and any adults who witness the “magic” of the keys in use quickly forget what they’ve seen. There is an Anywhere Key that can turn a door into a portal to anywhere in the world, for instance, and a Ghost Key that lets your spirit leave your body. A Head Key provides access to one’s inner self, and an Identity Key allows you to change your appearance.

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#entertainment, #gaming-culture, #locke-and-key, #netflix, #streaming-television

Baking Impossible: The great nerdish bake-off for the engineering set


Structural integrity, physics, and load-bearing properties—how often do you see reality TV series that reward contestants’ careful engineering efforts? And how often do you see those creations subsequently picked apart with a fork and tasted by judges?

I’m not exactly sure how Netflix’s algorithms, the ones that pore over millions of hours of viewers’ watching habits and guess what we’ll love next, settled on the idea of combining Top Chef and Mythbusters. But as I settle into the oncoming gloom of fall and look for series to watch with non-nerds in my life, I’m convinced that new series Baking Impossible is a good idea.

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#gaming-culture, #netflix, #reality-tv

The Locke kids are not alright in official trailer for Locke and Key S2

It has been a long, pandemic-induced wait, but the official trailer for the second season of Locke and Key is finally here. This is Netflix’s adaptation of the award-winning comic book series written by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabe Rodriguez. In our 2020 year-end TV roundup, I wrote that the series successfully brought “the fabled Key House and the darkly fantastical world of the comics to vivid life.” I’ve been eager for more of the story—and we’ll be getting a lot more, since the series has already been renewed for a third season.

(Spoilers for the first season below.)

Following the brutal murder of their father Rendell (Bill Heck, The Alienist), the surviving members of the Locke family—mom Nina (Darby Stanchfield, Scandal) and three children, Tyler (Connor Jessup, Falling Skies), Kinsey (Emilia Jones, Doctor Who), and Bode (Jackson Robert Scott, IT and IT Chapter Two)—arrive at Keyhouse, Rendell’s Massachusetts ancestral home. Shortly after arrival, Bode, the youngest sibling, finds a magical key, and then another, and another, each with its own special power. The keys whisper to those who are sensitive to them—and of course, Bode, Tyler, and Kinsey can hear them.

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#gaming-culture, #netflix

Occultist tries to imprison Death in first The Sandman teaser

Tom Sturridge stars as Dream/Morpheus in the Netflix adapted series, The Sandman.

It has been a long time coming, but we finally have our first glimpse of footage from The Sandman, Netflix’s adaptation of the DC Comics graphic novels created by Neil Gaiman. The streaming giant also released several character posters for the series during its Tudum global fan event. And in addition to The Sandman, we got a tantalizing new teaser for Stranger Things S4, the opening credits for Cowboy Bebop, and new trailers for Army of Thieves and The Witcher S2, among other goodies.

The Sandman teaser

As I’ve written previously, the titular “sandman” is Dream, aka Morpheus, among other names. He is one of seven entities known as the Endless, and he is seeking to set right his past mistakes. The other Endless are Destiny, Destruction, Despair, Desire, Delirium, and Death (portrayed as a perky punk/goth young woman). They became almost as popular as Dream himself (especially Death) and were featured in several spinoff comics. The series opens when Morpheus, the King of Dreams, escapes from a 70-year imprisonment by an occultist—who actually wanted to capture Dream’s sibling Death but trapped the Sandman by mistake.

Gaiman has been heavily involved with this Netflix adaptation, which bodes well for the project. Tom Sturridge snagged the coveted role of Morpheus, Lord of the Dreaming, no doubt due in part to his well-sculpted cheekbones. As for Dream’s Endless Siblings, Kirby Howell-Baptiste plays Death, Donna Preston plays Despair, and Mason Alexander Park plays Desire. Game of Thrones alums Gwendoline Christie and Charles Dance play a gender-swapped Lucifer and the charlatan magician Roderick Burgess, respectively. (Burgess is styled after real-life occultist Aleister Crowley and is Crowley’s arch-rival within the world of DC Comics.)

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#army-of-thieves, #cowboy-bebop, #gaming-culture, #neil-gaiman, #netflix, #sandman, #stranger-things-s4, #the-witcher

Netflix launches free plan in Kenya to boost growth

Netflix said on Monday it is launching a free mobile plan in Kenya as the global streaming giant looks to tap the East African nation that is home to over 20 million internet users.

The free plan, which will be rolled out to all users in Kenya in the coming weeks, won’t require them to provide any payment information during the sign-up, the company said. The new plan is available to any user aged 18 or above with an Android phone, the company said. It will also not include ads.

Netflix, available in over 190 countries, has experimented with a range of plans in recent years to lure customers in developing markets. For instance, it began testing a $3 mobile-only plan in India in 2018 — before expanding it to users in several other countries.

This is also not the first time Netflix is offering its service for free — or at little to no price. The company has previously supported free trials in many markets, offered a tiny portion of its original movies and shows to non-subscribers, and has run at least one campaign in India when the service was available at no charge over the course of a weekend.

But its latest offering in Kenya is still remarkable. The company told Reuters that it is making about one quarter of its movies and television shows catalog available to users in the free plan in the East African nation.

“If you’ve never watched Netflix before — and many people in Kenya haven’t — this is a great way to experience our service,” Cathy Conk, Director of Product Innovation at Netflix, wrote in a blog post.

“And if you like what you see, it’s easy to upgrade to one of our paid plans so you can enjoy our full catalog on your TV or laptop as well.”

The company didn’t disclose how long it plans to offer this free tier in Kenya — and whether it is considering expanding this offering to other markets.

On its past earnings calls, Netflix executives have insisted that they study each market and explore ways to make their service more compelling to all. The ability to sign up without a payment information lends credibility to such claims. Many individuals in developed countries don’t have a credit or debit card, which renders services requiring such payment instruments at the sign-up inaccessible to them.

The new push to win customers comes as the company, which is also planning to add mobile games to its offering, added only 1.5 million net paying subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, lower than what it had forecast. Netflix, which has amassed over 209 million subscribers, as well as Amazon Prime Video and other streaming services are increasingly trying to win customers outside of the U.S. to maintain faster growth rates.

Earlier this year, Amazon introduced a free and ad-supported video streaming service within its shopping app in India to tap more customers.

#africa, #amazon, #amazon-prime-video, #apps, #kenya, #media, #mobile, #netflix

Roku debuts new Streaming Stick 4K bundles, software update with voice and mobile features

Weeks after Amazon introduced an updated Fire TV lineup that included, for the first time, its own TVs, Roku today is announcing its own competitive products in a race to capture consumers’ attention before the holiday shopping season. Its updates include a new Roku Streaming Stick 4K and Roku Streaming Stick 4K+ — the latter which ships with Roku’s newer hands-free voice remote. The company is also refreshing the Roku Ultra LT, a Walmart-exclusive version of its high-end player. And it announced the latest software update, Roku OS 10.5, which adds updated voice features, a new Live TV channel for home screens, and other minor changes.

The new Streaming Stick 4K builds on Roku’s four-year-old product, the Streaming Stick+, as it offers the same type of stick form factor designed to be hidden behind the TV set. This version, however, has a faster processor which allows the device to boot up to 30% faster and load channels more quickly, Roku claims. The Wi-Fi is also improved, offering faster speeds and smart algorithms that help make sure users get on the right band for the best performance in their homes where network congestion is an increasingly common problem  — especially with the pandemic-induced remote work lifestyle. The new Stick adds support for Dolby Vision and HDR 10+, giving it the “4K” moniker.

This version ships with Roku’s standard voice remote for the same price of $49.99. For comparison, Amazon’s new Fire TV Stick Max with a faster processor and speedier Wi-Fi is $54.99. However, Amazon is touting the addition of Wi-Fi 6 and support for its game streaming service, Luna, as reasons to upgrade.

Roku’s new Streaming Stick 4K+ adds the Roku Voice Remote Pro to the bundle instead. This is Roku’s new remote, launched in the spring, that offers rechargeability, a lost remote finder, and hands-free voice support via its mid-field microphone, so you can just say things like “hey Roku, turn on the TV,” or “launch Netflix,” instead of pressing buttons. Bought separately, this remote is $29.99. The bundle sells for $69.99, which translates to a $10 discount over buying the stick and remote by themselves.

Image Credits: Roku

Both versions of the Streaming Stick will be sold online and in stores starting in October.

The Roku Ultra LT ($79.99), built for Walmart exclusively, has also been refreshed with a faster processor, more storage, a new Wi-Fi radio with up to 50% longer range, support for Dolby Vision, Bluetooth audio streaming, and a built-in ethernet port.

Plus, Roku notes that TCL will become the first device partner to use the reference designs it introduced at CES for wireless soundbars, with its upcoming Roku TV wireless soundbar. This device connects over Wi-Fi to the TV and works with the Roku remote, and will arrive at major retailers in October where it will sell for $179.99.

The other big news is Roku’s OS 10.5 software release. The update isn’t making any dramatic changes this time around, but is instead focused largely on voice and mobile improvements.

The most noticeable consumer-facing change is the ability to add a new Live TV channel to your home screen which lets you more easily launch The Roku Channel’s 200+ free live TV channels, instead of having to first visit Roku’s free streaming hub directly, then navigate to the Live TV section. This could make the Roku feel more like traditional TV for cord-cutters abandoning their TV guide for the first time.

Other tweaks include expanded support for launching channels using voice commands, with most now supported; new voice search and podcast playback with a more visual “music and podcast” row and Spotify as a launch partner; the ability to control sound settings in the mobile app; an added Voice Help guide in settings; and additional sound configuration options for Roku speakers and soundbars (e.g. using the speaker pairs and soundbar in a left/center/right) or in full 5.1 surround sound system).

A handy feature for entering in email and passwords in set-up screens using voice commands is new, too. Roku says it sends the voice data off-device to its speech-to-text partner, and the audio is anonymized. Roku doesn’t get the password or store it, as it goes directly to the channel partner. While there are always privacy concerns with voice data, the addition is a big perk from an accessibility standpoint.

Image Credits: Roku

One of the more under-the-radar, but potentially useful changes coming in OS 10.5 is an advanced A/V sync feature that lets you use the smartphone camera to help Roku make further refinements to the audio delay when using wireless headphones to listen to the TV. This feature is offered through the mobile app.

The Roku mobile app in the U.S. is also gaining another feature with the OS 10.5 update with the addition of a new Home tab for browsing collections of movies and shows across genres, and a “Save List, which functions as a way to bookmark shows or movies you might hear about — like when chatting with friends — and want to remember to watch later when you’re back home in front of the TV.

The software update will roll out to Roku devices over the weeks ahead. It typically comes to Roku players first, then rolls out to TVs.

#amazon, #amazon-fire-tv, #apple-tv-app, #computing, #digital-media-players, #ethernet, #gadgets, #hardware, #internet-radio, #internet-television, #luna, #media, #mobile, #netflix, #now, #roku, #smartphone, #speaker, #spotify, #telecommunications, #united-states, #voice-search, #walmart, #wi-fi, #wireless-headphones, #wireless-soundbar

Netflix and Apple TV+ clean up at the Emmys with ‘The Crown’ and ‘Ted Lasso’

Netflix has nabbed the most Emmys ever for a single platform with 44 including 11 for The Crown, more than double its nearest rival, HBO/HBO Max. The 2021 edition of the awards was also a watershed year for Apple TV+, which took home 10 Emmys including seven for its comedy series Ted Lasso.

To be sure, a huge chunk of Netflix’s Emmy harvest came from the 34 Creative Arts Emmys it won last week. However, it still took a further 10 primetime Emmys including acting awards for Olivia Colman, Gillian Anderson and Josh O’Connor in The Crown, along with Ewan McGregor in Halston. The Crown also won for writing and directing, while taking the prestigious best drama series prize. Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, starring Anya Taylor-Joy, won for best limited series.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – SEPTEMBER 19: (L-R) Phil Dunster, Brett Goldstein, Hannah Waddingham, Jason Sudeikis, Juno Temple, Nick Mohammed, and Brendan Hunt, winners of Outstanding Comedy Series for ‘Ted Lasso,’ as well as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series (Goldstein), Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series (Waddingham), and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Comedy Series (Sudeikis), pose in the press room during the 73rd Primetime Emmy Awards at L.A. LIVE on September 19, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images)

Meanwhile, Apple TV+ had its best Emmys yet with 10 total, including seven in primetime. It dominated the comedy series category with seven wins for Ted Lasso, including three in the acting category for Brett Goldstein and Hannah Waddingham (best supporting actors) along with Jason Sudeikis (best actor). Ted Lasso also took the award for best comedy series.

Thanks in large part to that series, Apple TV+ fared much better than its rivals. Disney+ did beat it with 14 awards total, up from eight in 2020, but only one of those was a primetime Emmy (Hamilton for best pre-recorded variety special). Amazon and Hulu were completely shut out in 2021, after both won Emmys in 2020.

HBO and HBO Max led all rivals with 130 nominations and took 19 Emmys, including 9 in primetime. The biggest winners last night were Jean Smart for Hacks (best actress in a comedy series) and Kate Winslet for Mare of Easstown(best actress in a limited series). After she was controversially shut out of the Golden Globes nominations, Michaela Coel took the prize for best writing in a limited series for I May Destroy You.

It was notable in 2018 when Netflix managed to tie a cable network, HBO (pre-HBO Max), for the most Emmy wins. This year, it beat all rivals by a long way, and streaming platforms overall took the top four spots. Whether that can continue when the pandemic starts to wane — and subscription growth declines — remains to be seen.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared on Engadget.

#apple-tv, #column, #hbo-max, #netflix, #tc, #tceng

Confluent CEO Jay Kreps is coming to TC Sessions: SaaS for a fireside chat

As companies process ever-increasing amounts of data, moving it in real time is a huge challenge for organizations. Confluent is a streaming data platform built on top of the open source Apache Kafka project that’s been designed to process massive numbers of events. To discuss this, and more, Confluent CEO and co-founder Jay Kreps will be joining us at TC Sessions: SaaS on Oct 27th for a fireside chat.

Data is a big part of the story we are telling at the SaaS event, as it has such a critical role in every business. Kreps has said in the past the data streams are at the core of every business, from sales to orders to customer experiences. As he wrote in a company blog post announcing the company’s $250 million Series E in April 2020, Confluent is working to process all of this data in real time — and that was a big reason why investors were willing to pour so much money into the company.

“The reason is simple: though new data technologies come and go, event streaming is emerging as a major new category that is on a path to be as important and foundational in the architecture of a modern digital company as databases have been,” Kreps wrote at the time.

The company’s streaming data platform takes a multi-faceted approach to streaming and builds on the open source Kafka project. While anyone can download and use Kafka, as with many open source projects, companies may lack the resources or expertise to deal with the raw open source code. Many a startup have been built on open source to help simplify whatever the project does, and Confluent and Kafka are no different.

Kreps told us in 2017 that companies using Kafka as a core technology include Netflix, Uber, Cisco and Goldman Sachs. But those companies have the resources to manage complex software like this. Mere mortal companies can pay Confluent to access a managed cloud version or they can manage it themselves and install it in the cloud infrastructure provider of choice.

The project was actually born at LinkedIn in 2011 when their engineers were tasked with building a tool to process the enormous number of events flowing through the platform. The company eventually open sourced the technology it had created and Apache Kafka was born.

Confluent launched in 2014 and raised over $450 million along the way. In its last private round in April 2020, the company scored a $4.5 billion valuation on a $250 million investment. As of today, it has a market cap of over $17 billion.

In addition to our discussion with Kreps, the conference will also include Google’s Javier Soltero, Amplitude’s Olivia Rose, as well as investors Kobie Fuller and Casey Aylward, among others. We hope you’ll join us. It’s going to be a thought-provoking lineup.

Buy your pass now to save up to $100 when you book by October 1. We can’t wait to see you in October!

#apache-kafka, #casey-aylward, #cisco, #cloud, #cloud-computing, #computing, #confluent, #developer, #enterprise, #event-streaming, #free-software, #goldman-sachs, #google, #javier-soltero, #jay-kreps, #kobie-fuller, #linkedin, #microsoft, #netflix, #open-source, #saas, #software, #software-as-a-service, #tc, #tc-sessions-saas-2021, #uber

How 13 Reasons Why sparked years of suicide-contagion research

Back in 2017, the first season of the Netflix series <em>13 Reasons Why</em> sparked controversy about suicide contagion. Four years later, a new UCLA study offers guidance for Hollywood on how to best handle such topics going forward.

Enlarge / Back in 2017, the first season of the Netflix series 13 Reasons Why sparked controversy about suicide contagion. Four years later, a new UCLA study offers guidance for Hollywood on how to best handle such topics going forward. (credit: Netflix)

When 13 Reasons Why debuted on Netflix on March 31, 2017, it was initially met with mostly rave reviews from critics and viewers alike. Viewers appreciated the show’s frank and sensitive handling of such complex topics as suicide, bullying, rape, and depression. Within weeks, however, mental health professionals began voicing strong objections to the YA-targeted show’s treatment of suicide in particular—these professionals believed the depiction could trigger suicidal thoughts or actions in vulnerable teens. It’s well known that high-profile suicides can sometimes influence copycats, but the issue is less clear when it comes to fictional stories. Throughout the last four years, multiple, often contradictory studies on that very topic have since appeared. Some of the studies show negative impacts, while others show beneficial effects in young people who watched 13 Reasons Why.

The series aired its fourth and final season last year, but 13 Reasons Why continues to inspire research on the potential impact (positive or negative) of fictional stories on teen mental health. A new study available today from researchers affiliated with UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers focuses specifically on the show’s third season, and it shows that series like 13 Reasons Why can have a positive impact on teen mental health as long as the issues are depicted accurately and with empathy.

The report also recommends that appropriate supplementary resources be provided to viewers—which is a major challenge, since most viewers don’t engage with such resources even when they are available. But whether it’s a streaming series or accompanying readings, the researchers at UCLA’s Center for Scholars and Storytellers strongly believe that the media tweens and teens consume plays a crucial role in their development, as it does with any other young demographic.

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#13-reasons-why, #features, #gaming-culture, #netflix, #psychology, #science, #sociology, #streaming-television, #suicide-contagion, #ucla

Epic Games appeals last week’s ruling in antitrust battle with Apple

Fortnite maker Epic Games is appealing last week’s ruling in its court battle with Apple, where a federal judge said Apple would no longer be allowed to block developers from adding links to alternative payment mechanisms, but stopped short of dubbing Apple a monopolist. The latter would have allowed Epic Games to argue for alternative means of serving its iOS user base, including perhaps, through third-party app stores or even sideloading capabilities built into Apple’s mobile operating system, similar to those on Google’s Android OS.

Apple immediately declared the court battle a victory, as the judge had agreed with its position that the company was “not in violation of antitrust law” and had also deemed Apple’s success in the app and gaming ecosystem as “not illegal.” Epic Games founder and CEO Tim Sweeney, meanwhile, said the ruling was not a win for either developers or consumers. On Twitter, he hinted that the company may appeal the decision when he said, “We will fight on.”

In a court filing published on Sunday (see below), Epic Games officially stated its attention to appeal U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers’ final judgment and “all orders leading to or producing that judgment.”

As part of the judge’s decision, Epic Games had been ordered to pay Apple the 30% of the $12 million it earned when it introduced its alternative payment system in Fortnite on iOS, which was then in breach of its legal contract with Apple.

The appellate court will revisit how Judge Gonzalez Rogers defined the market where Epic Games had argued Apple was acting as a monopolist. Contrary to both parties’ wishes, Gonzalez Rogers defined it as the market for “digital mobile gaming transactions” specifically. Though an appeal may or may not see the court shifting its opinion in Epic Games’ favor, a new ruling could potentially help to clarify the vague language used in the injunction to describe how Apple must now accommodate developers who want to point their customers to other payment mechanisms.

So far, the expectation floating around the developer community is that Apple will simply extend the “reader app” category exception to all non-reader apps (apps that provide access to purchased content). Apple recently settled with a Japanese regulator by agreeing to allow reader apps to point users to their own website where users could sign up and manage their accounts, which could include customers paying for subscriptions — like Netflix or Spotify subscriptions, for instance. Apple said this change would be global.

In briefings with reporters, Apple said the details of the injunction issued with the Epic Games ruling, however, would still need to be worked out. Given the recency of the decision, the company has not yet communicated with developers on how this change will impact them directly nor has it updated its App Store guidelines with new language.

Reached for comment, Epic Games said it does not have any further statements on its decision to appeal at this time.

#android, #app-store, #apple, #apple-inc, #apps, #ceo, #computing, #epic-games, #itunes, #judge, #mobile, #netflix, #operating-system, #software, #spotify, #technology, #tim-sweeney, #united-states

Billogram, provider of a payments platform specifically for recurring billing, raises $45M

Payments made a huge shift to digital platforms during the Covid-19 pandemic — purchasing moved online for many consumers and businesses; and a large proportion of those continuing to buy and sell in-person went cash-free. Today a startup that has been focusing on one specific aspect of payments — recurring billing — is announcing a round of funding to capitalize on that growth with expansion of its own. Billogram, which has built a platform for third parties to build and handle any kind of recurring payments (not one-off purchases), has closed a round of $45 million.

The funding is coming from a single investor, Partech, and will be used to help the Stockholm-based startup expand from its current base in Sweden to six more markets, Jonas Suijkerbuijk, Billogram’s CEO and founder, said in an interview, to cover more of Germany (where it’s already active now), Norway, Finland, Ireland, France, Spain, and Italy.

The company got its start working with SMBs in 2011 but pivoted some years later to working with larger enterprises, which make up the majority of its business today. Suijkerbuijk said that in 2020, signed deals went up by 300%, and the first half of 2021 grew 50% more on top of that. Its users include utilities like Skanska Energi and broadband company Ownit, and others like remote healthcare company Kry, businesses that take invoice and take monthly payments from their customers.

While there has been a lot of attention around how companies like Apple and Google are handling subscriptions and payments in apps, what Billogram focuses on is a different beast, and much more complex: it’s more integrated into the business providing services, and it may involve different services, and the fees can vary over every billing period. It’s for this reason that, in fact, even big companies in the realm of digital payments, like Stripe, which might even already have products that can help manage subscriptions on their platforms, partner with companies like Billogram to build the experiences to manage their more involved kinds of payment services.

I should point out here that Suijkerbuijk told me that Stripe recently became a partner of Billograms, which is very interesting… but he also added that a number of the big payments companies have talked to Billogram. He also confirmed that currently Stripe is not an investor in the company. “We have a very good relationship,” he said.

It’s not surprising to see Stripe and others wanting to more in the area of more complex, recurring billing services. Researchers estimate that the market size (revenues and services) for subscription and recurring billing will be close to $6 billion this year, with that number ballooning to well over $10 billion by 2025. And indeed, the effort to make a payment or any kind of transaction will continue to be a point of friction in the world of commerce, so any kinds of systems that bring technology to bear to make that easier and something that consumers or businesses will do without thinking about it, will be valuable, and will likely grow in dominance. (It’s why the more basic subscription services, such as Prime membership or a Netflix subscription, or a cloud storage account, are such winners.)

Within that very big pie, Suijkerbuijk noted that rather than the Apples and Googles of the world, the kinds of businesses that Billogram currently competes against are those that are addressing the same thornier end of the payments spectrum that Billogram is. These include a wide swathe of incumbent companies that do a lot of their business in areas like debt collection, and other specialists like Scaleworks-backed Chargify — which itself got a big investment injection earlier this year from Battery Ventures, which put $150 million into both it and another billing provider, SaaSOptics, in April.

The former group of competitors are not currently a threat to Billogram, he added.

“Debt collecting agencies are big on invoicing, but no one — not their customers, nor their customers’ customers — loves them, so they are great competitors to have,” Suijkerbuijk joked.

This also means that Billogram is not likely to move into debt collection itself as it continues to expand. Instead, he said, the focus will be on building out more tools to make the invoicing and payments experience better and less painful to customers. That will likely include more moves into customer service and generally improving the overall billing experience — something we have seen become a bigger area also during the pandemic, as companies realized that they needed to address non-payments in a different way from how their used to, given world events and the impact they were having on individuals.

“We are excited to partner with Jonas and the team at Billogram.” says Omri Benayoun, General Partner at Partech, in a statement. “Having spotted a gap in the market, they have quietly built the most advanced platform for large B2C enterprises looking to integrate billing, payment, and collection in one single solution. In our discussion with leading utilities, telecom, e-health, and all other clients across Europe, we realized how valuable Billogram was for them in order to engage with their end-users through a top-notch billing and payment experience. The outstanding commercial traction demonstrated by Billogram has further cemented our conviction, and we can’t wait to support the team in bringing their solution to many more customers in Europe and beyond!”

#apple, #battery-ventures, #billing, #billogram, #broadband, #business-software, #ceo, #e-health, #economy, #europe, #finance, #financial-technology, #finland, #france, #funding, #general-partner, #germany, #google, #ireland, #italy, #kry, #merchant-services, #money, #netflix, #norway, #online-payments, #partner, #spain, #stockholm, #stripe, #sweden, #web-applications

Stravito raises $14.6M to create a ‘Netflix for enterprise market research’

Market research and insights are often underutilized assets for enterprises but it’s usually too hard to find content and there’s a lot of duplication, or information isn’t used well.

Swedish startup Stravito says it can centralize internal and external data sources and create something more akin to a ‘Spotify or Netflix’ for these kinds of assets, making them far more usable and consumable, they say.

It’s clearly onto something, since it’s now raised a €12.4million ($14.6million USD) series A funding round led by Endeit Capital, with additional investment from existing investors HenQ, Inventure and Creades. To date, Stravito has raised €20.1million ($23.7million USD).

Founded in 2017 by market research veterans and former iZettle employees, Stravito counts among its customers Carlsberg, Edwards Lifesciences, Pepsi Lipton, Danone, Electrolux and Comcast.

Thor Olof Philogène, CEO and co-founder at Stravito said: “It has never been more important for the world’s largest enterprises to understand and react to their customer’s changing behaviors using centralized, vetted company insights. Stravito’s technology and platform makes it fast and easy for companies to use research to make better decisions.”

On a call with me he added: “We provide a search technology, and a great design, all combined to deliver an intuitive, highly automated cloud service that allows these big companies to centralise internal and external data sources so they can pull out the nuggets they need.”

Jelle-Jan Bruinsma, Partner at Endeit Capital, added: “Endeit Capital is always looking for the next generation of international software scale-ups, and Stravito stood out in the Nordics through its impressive work to raise the bar in the multibillion dollar market research and data industry.”
Stravito also appointed Elaine Rodrigo, Chief Insights & Analytics Officer at Reckitt Benckiser, to its board of directors.

#comcast, #companies, #creades, #danone, #electrolux, #endeit-capital, #europe, #food-and-drink, #netflix, #partner, #pepsi, #spotify, #tc

As it turns out, “Netflix Gaming” isn’t a streaming service

One month after its vague announcement of a new gaming-centric strategy, Netflix has taken the wraps off of how exactly it will “publish” video games in the foreseeable future: as downloadable smartphone apps, available exclusively for paying video-streaming subscribers.

The news coincides with the company’s public launch of Netflix Gaming on Thursday as part of the service’s smartphone app… but only in Poland, and only on Android. The company’s American Twitter translated Thursday’s Polish announcement, which explains how it works and the two games launching as part of the service today: Stranger Things 3, a 16-bit beat-’em-up that was previously available as a standalone Google Play purchase (and is still live on PC and consoles); and Stranger Things: 1984, a brand-new, smartphone-exclusive game that seems to revolve around slow, puzzle-solving movement through pixellated TV-series environments. (Both games, coincidentally, were made by the same indie game studio, BonusXP, which is based in Texas, not Poland.)

To access this content, you’ll need to log in to Netflix’s Android app while using a Polish IP address, then open the region’s new “N Gaming” tab. From there, pick either of those games, which will direct you to their Google Play download listings. Once downloaded, go back into the Netflix app and boot the game of your choice from there.

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#gaming-culture, #netflix

Netflix begins testing mobile games in its Android app in Poland

Netflix today announced it will begin testing mobile games inside its Android app for its members in Poland. At launch, paying subscribers will be able to try out two games, “Stranger Things: 1984” and “Stranger Things 3” — titles that have been previously available on the Apple App Store, Google Play and, in the case of the newer release, on other platforms including desktop and consoles. While the games are offered to subscribers from within the Netflix mobile app’s center tab, users will still be directed to the Google Play Store to install the game on their devices.

To then play, members will need to confirm their Netflix credentials.

Members can later return to the game at any time by clicking “Play” on the game’s page from inside the Netflix app or by launching it directly from their mobile device.

“It’s still very, very early days and we will be working hard to deliver the best possible experience in the months ahead with our no ads, no in-app purchases approach to gaming,” a Netflix spokesperson said about the launch.

The company has been expanding its investment in gaming for years, seeing the potential for a broader entertainment universe that ties in to its most popular shows. At the E3 gaming conference back in 2019, Netflix detailed a series of gaming integrations across popular platforms like Roblox and Fortnite and its plans to bring new “Stranger Things” games to the market.

On mobile, Netflix has been working with the Allen, Texas-based game studio BonusXP, whose first game for Netflix, “Stranger Things: The Game,” has now been renamed “Stranger Things: 1984” to better differentiate it from others. While that game takes place after season 1 and before season 2, in the “Stranger Things” timeline, the follow-up title, “Stranger Things 3,” is a playable version of the third season of the Netflix series. (So watch out for spoilers!)

Netflix declined to share how popular the games had been in terms of users or installs, while they were publicly available on the app stores.

With the launch of the test in Poland, Netflix says users will need to have a membership to download the titles as they’re now exclusively available to subscribers. However, existing users who already downloaded the game from Google Play in the past will not be impacted. They will be able to play the game as usual or even re-download it from their account library if they used to have it installed. But new players will only be able to get the game from the Netflix app.

The test aims to better understand how mobile gaming will resonate with Netflix members and determine what other improvements Netflix may need to make to the overall functionality, the company said. It chose Poland as the initial test market because it has an active mobile gaming audience, which made it seem like a good fit for this early feedback.

Netflix couldn’t say when it would broaden this test to other countries, beyond “the coming months.”

The streamer recently announced during its second-quarter earnings that it would add mobile games to its offerings, noting that it viewing gaming as “another new content category” for its business, similar to its “expansion into original films, animation and unscripted TV.”

The news followed what had been a sharp slowdown in new customers after the pandemic-fueled boost to streaming. In North America, Netflix in Q2 lost a sizable 430,000 subscribers — its third-ever quarterly decline in a decade. It also issued weaker guidance for the upcoming quarter, forecasting the addition of 3.5 million subscribers when analysts had been looking for 5.9 million. But Netflix downplayed the threat of competition on its slowing growth, instead blaming a lighter content slate, in part due to Covid-related production delays.






#android, #animation, #app-store, #apple-app-store, #apps, #computing, #gaming, #google-play, #google-play-store, #media, #mobile, #mobile-device, #mobile-game, #netflix, #north-america, #operating-systems, #poland, #roblox, #software, #spokesperson, #stranger-things, #texas