Can you remember back to the days when YouTube wasn’t muddled with pre-roll advertisements? Yeah, I know, it’s straining. Well, Google is looking to finally alleviate the pain that comes packaged with having to sit through tediously boring commercials. The new initiative is called YouTube Red, and yes, like all magic it comes with a price. For $9.99/month you can stream YouTube videos completely ad-free. Oh, and thankfully there’s more to it. With a YouTube Red membership, you can also save videos for offline playback and background playback is enabled (the latter meaning playback continues even if you’re bouncing around other apps or if you’re mobile device falls asleep). Another perk? A Google Play Music subscription is part of it, too. Of course, Red benefits do not apply to those YouTube videos that require you to pay to view such as film rentals and the like. The rest, praise be, indeed go ad-free.
In time, YouTube Red will also offer exclusive content such as YouTube Music (a new way to curate and listen to music coming next year) and YouTube Red Original Series produced by some of the sites biggest stars like PewDiePie and Joey Graceffa. Preview ten of the new series coming in 2016 over here.
As of October 28, YouTube Red has gone live and you can live the ad-free experience by signing up today. YouTube’s offering a free one-month trial for you to find out if the $10 barrier to entry is worth it to you. If you happen to be a proud owner of a YouTube channel, do note that if you are ever looking to support your videos with ads, you will be forced to pay up for a Red membership. With that slightly sour but understandable point out of the way, go give YouTube Red a test drive and see if the reality lives up to the hype of living in an ad-free YouTube world.
OnLive, the gaming on-demand cloud-based service, scrapped the idea of implementing a required monthly fee back in October, but now they’re bringing it back and this time it’s optional. OnLive gamers will have three options to play games. (1) Purchase a game in full to keep. (2) With PlayPass gamers can buy a 3-day or 5-day rental pass to stream a full game. (3) With PlayPack (and here’s the new addition) gamers can pay $9.99/month to gain access to an entire catalog of games. Think of it as Netflix but for games; you pay one flat-rate per month and gain access to a bunch of full streaming games. Nice deal, huh?
The company says the new flat-rate plan will comprise more than 40 “high-quality” games when it officially launches January 15, 2011. Some of these games include Prince of Persia, Unreal Tournament 3, and LEGO Batman. They promise this small batch of initial games will “expand up to and beyond” the launch date. Now check this: if you purchase the OnLive Game System (which is a $99 controller and MicroConsole bundle) you will receive free access to the PlayPack library of games until the January launch. After this “introductory beta period” is over, you’ll have to pay the monthly subscription price if you don’t want to part with it.
Happy (video games) streaming. Full PR after the break.
Hulu Plus preview opens up to everyone, now available on 2010 Sony BRAVIA TVs, coming next week to all PS3 users
Hulu is ready to take its premium subscription service to the next level by opening it up to more people. As of today you no longer need an invitation to subscribe to Hulu Plus; if you’re interested, go ahead and register for the service right now. Is your living room packed with Sony products? If so this next bit of news should crack a smile. Hulu Plus is now available to access on 2010 BRAVIA HDTVs and BRAVIA Internet Video Link via the BRAVIA Internet Video platform. It will “soon” be available on Blu-ray players, Blu-ray Home Theater Systems, Network Media Player, and Sony’s DASH. PS3 owners, listen here: Hulu Plus will open for all of you sometime next week. (Update (11/10): It’s available today.) Since July only those PS3 users who subscribed to PlayStation Plus (a $50/year service) could use Hulu Plus, but now Hulu is removing that road block and allowing all PS3 users with a (free) PSN account to sign up for their service. PS3 will remain the exclusive video games console with Hulu Plus access through the remainder of the year; it’s expected to land on Xbox 360 and Wii sometime in 2011. PR messages from Sony and Hulu sit after the break.
On July 14 Hulu Plus, the $9.99/month service that grants you access to boatloads of Hulu content on and beyond the PC, launched on the PlayStation 3. Currently only “a select group” of PlayStation Plus subscribers can gain access to Hulu Plus since it’s still in a preview phase. Remember, PlayStation Plus subscribers pay an additional $50/year for the recently launch Sony service that provides gamers with exclusive game demos, trials, and other content. If you’re a member of the PS Plus community you can download the free Hulu Plus application in the PlayStation Store and request an invitation to the preview. If you’re selected, good for you! If you’re not selected, and if you’re not a paying PS Plus subscriber, there’s no need to worry. “As Hulu Plus becomes generally available in the coming months”, all PS3 owners will have access to Hulu Plus. PlayStation 3 will be the only console-bound home for Hulu Plus through 2010. It is expected to land on Xbox 360 and Wii sometime next year. Full PR after the break.
The rumor mill just couldn’t handle it anymore so Hulu decided to make things official: Hulu is expanding its video streaming services to an electronic device near you. The new subscription-based service does not replace Hulu.com, mind you; it gives TV addicts the option to pay $10/month to access full libraries of TV shows on their computers and many other devices. So you know how many of your favorite TV shows you watch on Hulu.com are limited to streaming only five episodes at a time? Hulu Plus subscribers will gain access to every episode of every season “for almost all of the current broadcast shows” Hulu offers. In addition to having access to modern hit shows like House and Modern Family, Hulu Plus subscribers will be able to watch “back seasons or full runs” of some classic TV shows. These include The X-Files, Arrested Development, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Hulu calls it “a treasure chest in the cloud for TV lovers.” I concur. And here’s the kicker: all native HD content will stream in 720p high definition.
If you’re a Hulu Price subscriber you can take all your Hulu content into your living room and on the go. I’ll list out the devices. Samsung Internet-connected and Samsung App-enabled TVs & Blu-ray players (available today); Sony & VIZIO Internet-connected TVs & Blu-ray players (support coming Fall 2010); Microsoft Xbox 360 (coming early 2011); Sony PlayStation 3 (coming soon). Got an Apple device? There’s a Hulu Plus app available in the App Store; it runs on iPhone 4, iPhone 3GS, iPod touch 3G (all running iOS4), and iPad. And it will stream content over 3G and WiFi. Score! You can download the app today for free and watch some free content to test it out for yourself. It’s pretty incredible, the ability to watch all your favorite (network) TV shows in HD away from the computer. Sure you have to cough up $10 a month but if you’re a TV junkie like me, a price like that might just have you consider cutting the cable cord and opting for Hulu all the way. Unless, of course, True Blood and Mad Men mean too much to you. Decisions, decisions..
Currently Hulu is handing out invitations for Hulu Plus. If you want to be considered for the first wave of subscribers, click here. Hulu says, “We’ll be sending out as many invitations as we can each week, and as soon as we’re ready, we’ll remove the need for an invitation and start bringing in new subscribers without delay.” Look after the break for an informative video about Hulu Plus.
PlayStation Plus, Sony’s online premium offering for the PlayStation 3, was announced at the Sony press conference a couple weeks ago. Since then more details have spilled concerning what exactly it offers for paying subscribers. First, it’s important to remember that PlayStation Plus does not replace PS3’s current offering of free online gameplay and PlayStation Network usage. PS Plus is an additional, optional service that provides subscribers with discounts on games purchased in the PS Store, early access to betas, exclusive offers on select demos and early purchases, free monthly episodes of Qore, and automatic downloads. Let’s dive a bit deeper.
Subscribers have access to free monthly PSN games, minis, and PS One Classics from the PSN Store. You keep these games for as long as you’re a subscriber; if you decide to opt out of the service, the free games disappear from your library. Exclusive themes, avatars, and premium game elements/add-ons are also available to purchase; these are yours to keep “forever.” Exclusive PS Store discounts are also offered, ranging from from 20% to 50% off (that’s on top of the any current discounts currently available to non-members). Again, these are yours to keep “forever.” Early access to beta trials and game demos pop up as well. Members can download a full game trial for an alloted amount of time (typically one hour) to decide if they want to purchase the game. Unlike a standard game demo, full game trials do not restrict you to certain levels/game modes. You get the full game. And get this–if you decide to purchase the game after testing it out, all awarded trophies and saved data carry over from the trial. Lastly there’s automatic downloads. Subscribers can set their PS3 to wake up from standby at a determined time to automatically download PS3 firmware updates, game patches, and “select demos and videos.” PlayStation Plus is available to sign up for today over PSN. A one year subscription goes for $49.99 (this comes bundled with three free months at the end) and a three-month packaged is priced at $17.99.
PlayStation Plus came to the PS3 as part of firmware update version 3.40. Here’s what the update brings: Photo Gallery enhancements (allows you to upload, browse and comment on photos on Facebook and Picasa Web Album & share your photos between your PSN friends and print photos from Photo Gallery); Video Editor and Uploader (new XMB function enables you to edit, save and upload video files stored on the PS3 system to sites such as Facebook or YouTube); Five Star Rating Support (you can rate PS Store content on a five-star scale); and additional power save options. There’s also been a few upgrades to PSN-Facebook integration. A new PSN Facebook application allows you to display your PlayStation Network profile on Facebook, send friend requests, and view your PSN friends’ online status. Check out a few snapshots of the new features in the gallery below.
Let’s get right to it, shall we? The Wall Street Journal reports that CBS and Walt Disney Company (among other major TV networks) are “consideringparticipating in Apple’s plan to offer television subscriptions over the Internet.” CBS will offer shows from CBS and CW and Disney will offer selections from its ABC, Disney Channel, and ABC Family networks. Though details are being kept under wraps, word has it that Apple will offer its iTunes customers a $30/month subscription to choose from the TV networks’ selection of shows. This is all starting to make sense now that Apple has ate up streaming company Lala; they might just have a Hulu-esque TV streamingservice in the works. Whatever it may be, “sources” claim that Apple could finalize licensing deals and switch on the service sometime in 2010.
The Financial Times delves further into this matter and regurgitates the followinginformation: “Apple has contacted other broadcast and cable networks, including Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting System and Viacom, which have so far been unconvinced by Apple’s proposal. The computer maker has also courted the book publishing industry, sector executives say.” This is all very interesting, to say the least. Major publishers like the WSJ and the FT reporting on a potential iTunes subscription-based service can only mean that something is brewingat Apple HQ. Talks with CBS (Viacom), Time Warner, and ABC are vital if Apple plans on making such a TV show subscription plan work. And let’s not forget about their “court[ing] [of the] book publishing industry”…cue the Apple tablet/iPhone rumors.
Addional news comes from the Financial Times, and this time it’s about the impendingannouncement of the Apple tablet: “Apple is preparing an announcement next month that many anticipate will be the official unveiling of its tablet, but the company has so far declined to confirm the existence of the device. Wall Street analysts expect mass production of an Apple tablet to begin as early as February.”
To spread to the gaining hype around the tablet and the next-gen iPhone comes news today from a Silicon Alley Insider report: “Apple is preparing to show off a new, larger mobile device with a higher resolution display in January — probably a version of the Apple tablet we’ve been hearing about for months — according to a plugged-in source in the mobile industry.” This source says that Apple has asked a select group of app developers to prepare their apps to support a full-screen resolution (rather than the fixed 320×480 rez the iPhone currently uses) and to demo on a “new, larger mobile device.” In addition, the report says that the tablet will be demoed in January but not released into the market until a later date. This matches up with the FT news posted above; Apple will unveil it in January, ramp up production in February, and have it ready for the public by March 2010. And there’s more! DigiTimes reports that the next-gen iPhone will be packed with a 5 megapixel camera sensor.
And that’s it for now. Exhausting, huh? I think Apple just needs to come out with it already and unveil this coveted (albeit non-existent) tablet to calm our nerves and get us excited for something that we at least know is real. With Piper Jaffray’s Gene Munster claiming that there’s a 75% chance that an Apple January event is coming and word that the tablet will be the main focus of the event I am waiting in much anticipation. An overhaul of iTunes, the next-gen iPhone, the tablet…so many potential topics to discuss! Here’s hoping that Apple hits at least one of them next month.