TV

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Top 100 Songs Currently On Spotify Music Videos

I have spoken in previous posts about how the expensive yet traditional Cable or Satellite TV packages are rapidly becoming irrelevant and an unnecessary luxury. It’s not unheard of for a typical family to spend £100 a month on 200 channels of garbage, but with the rise of the smart TV or smart TV boxes, all most people need is a YouView recordable box and a good internet connection.

Sure you can dip in out of services like NetFlix and Sky’s Now TV but there is no need for one of those pesky contracts that have no place in the digital world.

As a Spotify user, you often take for granted being able to listen to whatever you want with a playlist for literally every mood or mindset, but I must confess to having lost touch with the world of Music videos and this is not helped by the endless music channels that consist of more adverts than music, which usually ends up with you flicking channels every few seconds, desperately trying to find something that you like.

However one Reddit user has come up with the genius idea of creating a You Tube playlist consisting of the music videos for the top 100 Songs currently on Spotify. So anyone that has access to You Tube on their TV can now just hit “Play All” with minimal fuss.

Even if you don’t have a Smart TV, games console or Apple TV box in your living room, there is no need to spend a huge amount of money, when a £30 purchase of Google Chromecast would bring you into the 21st century.

These kind of simple ideas are appearing everyday and changing the way in which we consume content and wonder just how long it will be before more and more people question their expensive TV subscription and how providers will adapt to the change in their customers lifestyles.

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Zeebox Rebranded As Beamly & Recruits Online Influencers In Bid To Become Social Network for Television

Physical media is dead right? The days of browsing through TV listings in newspapers and magazines have gone, all you need is to do is simply fire up the Zeebox website or app and you can see instantly what is on the old TellyBox, along with what people are saying on Twitter, which is very often more entertaining than the TV show itself.

However, I discovered today that the former start-up realised that their user base were mostly young women, so have now repackaged Zeebox and relaunched as “Beamly” and begin to market this new brand to women aged under 35, in a bid to become the ultimate social network for TV viewers. This prompts my cynical side to think that this is quite simply one last shot at trying to get brought out by Sky or Twitter, which will finally allow the venture to make some money.

Rather than concentrating on speculation, I hand you over to the CEO and co-founder, Ernesto Schmitt, who simply points out.“The initial phase of social television and second screen was limited to apps providing a companion experience for audiences while watching TV,” 

“However, people’s emotional engagement with TV spans the whole day: they want to read up on stories about the shows and stars they love in the morning, discuss plotlines over the watercooler in the afternoon, and carefully plan what to watch in the evening – long before ever switching on the TV itself. While they watch, they want a great interactive experience that synchs with what’s on screen. And after the show is over, they want to chat and share socially with other fans. Beamly for the first time brings together all of these touchpoints with TV in a single app, all day long.”

So in a nutshell, here is the simple recipe for the big rebrand.

Simply remove the name Zeebox and the orange-look of the brand, replace with fluffy pinks and purples and a new name of “Beamly” but keep all of the original features only with a stronger emphasis on following shows and celebrities to appeal to the targeted “female under 35″ demographic.

Most interestingly, Beamly has signed up more than 100 ‘influencers’ from social media sites such as YouTube to engage with users within the app before sending out the all-important press release. It’s this announcement that has made me sit up and take notice. Especially considering that Social Media reach now eclipses the reach of your traditional TV, so seeing these two mediums working together is interesting to say the least.

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The growing importance of social media reach and online influence.

More and more companies seem to be realising that to make something a success, they need to spread the word fast, and the only way of achieving this, is by recruiting trusted people with a large online following and social media influence.

Although there remains a great deal of scepticism about the metrics used to measure the dark art of online influence used by sites such as Klout, Kred  and Peerindex, this is a fascinating subject and its benefits if mastered are undeniable.

The main reason for the rebranding was to lose its male geeky image, so ultimately it looks like I will now need to get my online Social TV experience fix elsewhere. I cannot help but feel the problem that held Zeebox back will also continue to hinder Beamly too, and that’s the fact that our TV habits have changed and the traditional method of watching TV is on the decline, as we binge view our way through boxsets of House of Cards and Breaking Bad on services such as Netflix.

However, I remain fascinated by the increasing high importance of online influence, so for this reason alone, I will continue to monitor the growth of this digital success story.

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Amazon Unveils Fire TV and Mocks Google, Apple and Microsoft In The Process

The last few weeks has seen increased speculation that Amazon will be joining the battle for the living room and this afternoon our suspicions were confirmed when Amazon announced that the Amazon Fire TV streaming box is officially a reality.

Quite simply described as a tiny box that plugs into your HDTV for easy and instant access to Netflix, Prime Instant Video and also offers the chance to play games which can be played with a separately sold controller, which looks remarkably similar to something Microsoft might produce.

Interestingly Peter Larsen came straight out swinging haymakers, by describing games consoles as too expensive and Apple TV’s mirroring efforts as laughable and even continued with an uppercut to their competition by criticising the lag on Apple TV, Microsoft’s Xbox Live and the Roku box.

A quick look under the hood reveals that Fire TV sports a quad-core processor with a dedicated GPU, 2GB of RAM (2X to 4X more than competing devices) and state-of-the-art MIMO Wi-Fi for “screaming” wireless performance.

In Layman’s terms despite being much thinner it offers three times the performance of Apple TV with the additional gimmick of being able to search for content with your voice, which should make their competitors stand up and take notice.

Amazon has worked with game developers like EA, Disney, Gameloft, Ubisoft, Telltale, Mojang, 2K, and Sega to bring their games to Fire TV. Games available starting on release include customer favourites like Minecraft, Monsters University, The Game of Life, The Walking Dead, NBA2K14, Asphalt 8, Riptide GP2, Despicable Me: Minion Rush, and more

With Fire TV we thought of games right from the beginning – fun immersive games at affordable prices.” Amazon proudly announces.

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In a rapidly saturated market the big questions are probably going to be, can Amazon survive in the modern battleground arena known as the living room? Or will this box end up gathering dust under the TV? (more…)

big bang theory

Bazinga! ‘The Big Bang Theory’ Renewed for Three More Years

It is probably not too much of a surprise that CBS has renewed The Big Bang Theory through to the 2016/2017 season. Being the most watched comedy show in the world makes this a no brainer.

Comedy is a big part of our schedule, and The Big Bang Theory is the biggest comedy force on television,” said CBS Entertainment Chairman Nina Tassler in a statement. “This multi-year deal further strengthens our network’s position for future seasons and marks another chapter in the great partnership CBS enjoys with Warner Bros. Television for delivering audiences the best in comedy. We’re proud to work with and showcase the incredible talents of Chuck Lorre, Steve Molaro and this amazing cast every week.”

Fans of the show have been quick to point out that no sitcom (not even Seinfeld or Friends) has ever received back-to-back three-season renewals so this is quite a unique moment for the show and with Sheldon entering into a “Relationship Agreement” with neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler, it can only be a matter of time before we see a Sheldon-Amy wedding on the horizon.

For you doubters or anyone that missed the big moment, here is the clip where Sheldon and Amy share a romantic kiss on Valentine’s Day.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zva3SRxQCv0 (more…)

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Popcorn Time – Netflix for Pirates, Torrents For Dummies…

We all know that the traditional method of watching TV is dying; busy lifestyles determine what we want to watch and when we want to watch it. This change in attitude from viewers has seen services such as Netflix flourish and maybe even see the downloading of content via torrents slightly decline.

Do you really want the hassle of downloading illegally and the cumbersome process of transferring your dodgy files by plugging your device via a USB cable, when for only £5.99 a month you can view as much as you want  and not be labelled a thief in the online community by your fellow digital natives.

The only downside is that it can take a while for up-to-date content to make it across to whatever service you subscribe to. However, Popcorn Time has arrived on the scene and this new open source BitTorrent-powered movie streaming app for downloading and watching movies, can probably be best described as Netflix for Pirates or even Torrents for Dummies. (more…)

oceanic 6

The Unfortunate Parallels of Oceanic 815 and MH370

Way back on September 22nd 2004 a Boeing 777 Oceanic Flight 815 carrying 324 passengers, disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. Of course this didn’t really happen at all, as this was the basic premise of the hit TV Show Lost.

We quickly learned that as a result of Desmond Hume (you alright, brother) failed to enter a code into the Swan station computer, which went on to cause a large burst of electromagnetic energy.

It wasn’t until after two months after the planes disappearance, that a wreckage was found in the Sunda Trench in the Indian Ocean near Bali. However the discovered wreckage was staged by Charles Widmore or Jim Robinson from neighbours to most UK and Australian viewers.

Over on the LOST island, more than 69 passengers and 2 crew members survived the crash and most TV fans will remember that six of these survivors made it off the Island and became known as the Oceanic Six.

  • Jack Shephard
  • Kate Austen
  • Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
  • Sayid Jarrah
  • Sun-Hwa Kwon
  • Aaron Littleton

How could we forget the character Eko, who was investigating the miracle of Charlotte Malkin as a fake priest and after finishing the investigation, he was returning with fake passport.

Whatever your opinion of the science fiction/supernatural TV Show, this LOST fan who has even been known to use the lottery numbers 4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42 that Hurley won $114 million dollars with on the “Mega Lotto Jackpot, cannot help but see that parallels when I tuned into the news this morning and was advised that one of the safest aeroplanes in the world, the Boeing 777 had disappeared off the radar.

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Reuters reported

“There were no reports of bad weather and no sign why the Boeing 777-200ER would have vanished from radar screens about an hour after it took off from Kuala Lumpur for Beijing. There were no signs of sabotage nor claims of a terrorist attack.

However, in Europe, news reports and officials said at least two people on board may have been carrying stolen passports”

Over 60 hours have passed and in these technology obsessed times, where we have an answer for anything that pops into our heads within a few seconds, it is incredibly hard to comprehend how an aeroplane can simply vanish from a radar screen and leave no trace.

The manner in which this has been reported has also raised suspicions, I cannot recall a time where a flight organization advise that they say they cannot find an aircraft.  Typically you have an announcement that the plane has gone down.  In this case, they chose to list it as lost contact and missing.  This terminology has raised some eyebrows and sent conspiracy theories into overdrive and with explanations that range from terrorism, accident and even supernatural.

There are also reports that a Chinese family successfully rang the mobile phone of a passenger on board Malaysia Airlines plane MH370. A video clip of a man dialling the number of his elder brother was shown on Beijing Television’s news bulletin. The call got connected, but no one picked up. The man, who did not give his name, spoke to reporters at a Malaysia Airlines briefing in Beijing. He claimed that he made a total of three calls, but no one answered. Desperate family members have asked Malaysia Airlines to use satellite technology to pick up the mobile phone signals of passengers before their phones run out of batteries.

With no distress call, no crash location, no debris and no explanation as to what happened to the 5 people that decided not to board the plane, there are a growing number of simple questions that remain unanswered.

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The suggestion that the two passengers on false passport resembled the footballer Mario Balotelli was greeted by laughter at the press conference and will no doubt start to trend for all the wrong reasons on Twitter. There are currently 239 people missing and the tone of the investigation is somewhat concerning.

*Update* Despite the civil aviation chief suggesting yesterday that one of the men looked like the black Italian footballer Mario Balotelli, they announced the following day to the press that it was actually 2 Iranian dudes, so with observations like this, it’s no wonder they are struggling to find a plane.

As for the other burning question of “What about people who checked in but did not board the flight?”  This has also changed now to the inspector general of police saying that everyone who was booked on to the flight had boarded – though he then contradicted himself by saying one person had missed the flight because they got the wrong day. Malaysia Airlines says that four people were booked but never checked in according to the Guardian.

However the truth is nobody knows anything at all and everything we read are just theories, opinions or are intent on spoon feeding the masses with a narative. So with all the talk of terrorism and foul play, I prefer to think back to the 1989 sci-fi movie Millennium starring Kris Kristofferson and Cheryl Ladd and hope that everyone involved are actually safe.

I honestly hope that this is indeed just one big DHARMA Initiative conspiracy and that these passengers are actually safe from harm on the LOST Island, or more importantly returned safely to their families. A mystery like this is much easier to comprehend by comparing to some old TV show or movie but on this occasion I fear the actual truth could be much more complex and baffling, not to mention heart breaking for families who may never know exactly what happened on the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

With this in mind, it is important not to forget the potential loss of life and the tragic experience this has been for the families of these 239 people.

Frank-Underwood

Francis Underwood – A Larger Than Life Character

Kevin Spacey is far from shy is breaking the fourth wall with the character Francis Underwood in the hit Netflix show House of Cards, but this larger than life character seems to have broken out into the real world.

Francis Underwood appeared at the Emmys last year and somehow managed to manipulate the event into chaos and is a must watch for any fan of the show.

I guess that it was no surprise that Kevin Spacey arrived at the Oscars to present an honorary award and immediately channelled a ‘House of Cards’ Frank Underwood moment.  A quip to camera in Underwood’s distinctive South Carolina drawl: “And I sing because it’s so nice to be out of Washington and here with all my Hollywood friends.” Much to the delight of the A-List crowd prompting an over excited Jennifer Lawrence being caught on camera saying “OMG It’s Frank Underwood“.

However, a handful of lazy hacks complained that Spacey was using the platform to advertise his own show and the Netflix service. These journalists may just need to watch their step though, because Frank Underwood has a history with troublesome members of the press but would probably just dryly say “Insecurity bores me.”

Even if you haven’t finished binge-watching season 2 yet or curious at what the fuss is all about, check out this (spoiler free) compilation of the best advice Washington’s most cut-throat fictional politician has to offer impeccably acted by Kevin Spacey.

Everyone’s favourite character has been described as a manipulator, murderer, narcissist and  sociopath but I think the Independent described our favourite anti-hero best when they said he is a “menacing man, hiding his rage behind Southern charm and old-fashioned courtesy

With Breaking Bad and House of Cards, Netflix has changed the way everyone watches TV and there is definitely a wind of change in he air, where viewers are turning away from celebrity based quiz shows and reality programmes to soak up high quality drama which is starting to prove that the public are now much more sophisticated than the dumbed down TV Schedules that the traditional networks are spoon feeding the masses.

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Amazon Prime Membership £49 For 12 Months of Streaming 15,000 Movies & TV Episodes and Access to 500,000 Kindle Books

LOVEFiLM Instant will shortly become Amazon Prime Instant Video and customers can soak up unlimited streaming of more than 15,000 Movies & TV episodes and access to 500,000 books via the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. How much is this going to cost you? From 26th February the price will be £79 for 12 months, which works out just a little more expensive than Netflix.

However if you are smart you can pick up a Amazon Prime Membership right now for £49 for your first year, so for just over £4 a month, you will be able to reap all of the benefits including free delivery, no matter how much you are spending at Amazon.

For me this reinforces my opinion that physical media really is almost dead and buried but if you play the game wisely you could enjoy everything Amazon Prime has to offer and throw in Netflix too, all for just over £10 a month for a whole year, which makes think “Do I really need a £50+ a month Cable or Satellite subscription?

Movies, Books and Free Shipping? (more…)

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True Detective – Rust Debunks Religion

Many have said we are coming to the end of a golden era of TV, Breaking Bad has finished and this year will see the final episodes of Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire, but if dark drama with high quality writing is your weakness, then look no further than the fantastic True Detective with Matthew McConaughey cranking up yet another performance up to 11 along with the ever watchable Woody Harrelson.

“True Detective” is essentially HBO’s attempt to create an intelligent pulp crime drama. The show has an eerie Twin Peaks vibe about it and although it could be described as slow burning, this brilliantly written show will keep you on tenterhooks whilst also having the power of being philosophically intriguing too.

Take for example the tackling of the heavyweight subject of religion where atheist protagonist ‘Rust’ played by Matthew McConaughey eloquently rips religion apart when he chillingly pointed out “Transference of fear and self loathing to an authoritarian vessel is a catharsis, he absorbs their dread with his narrative, because of this he is effective in proportion to the amount of certainty he can project

I honestly cannot recall a TV show character speak about religion and the meaninglessness of existence in such an honest, philosophical and yet eloquent way and these two scenes show the power of both the writing and the performances.

Although you could argue we have been here before in other shows, where armchair detectives tried their best to unravel the mysteries surrounding Rosie Larsen in The Killing or Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks, from the moment the haunting theme “Far From Any Road” by New Mexico husband-and-wife duo the Handsome Family kicks in, you quickly get drawn into a world inspired by the likes of David Lynch or even Nick Cave and that certainly is no bad thing.

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How Text Messaging in House of Cards Captures the Zeitgeist

Cable and Satellite subscriptions are feeling somewhat irrelevant in the modern world, why do we need to spend over £50 a month for 300 channels of mind numbing garbage when a £5.99 subscription to Netflix gives you access to binge view high quality TV shows like Breaking Bad and House of Cards.

Speaking of House of Cards, the show made a much anticipated return this week as the entire second season landed on Netflix and even prompted President Barack Obama to Tweet “No House Of Cards Spoilers Please.”

Although the first season was somewhat of a slow burner that rewarded those that invested their time, the second season exploded in the opening episode, but don’t worry, there are no spoilers to be found here.

One of the more fascinating aspects of the show is how they include the use of text messages with an overlay. A few years ago it had been notoriously difficult to convey to the viewer what a character was reading on their phone and the audience were left squinting trying to read quickly from a dull and dimly lit phone, normally of the Nokia variety. However we are all used to multitasking now and in these days where innovation is paramount, it’s great to see how House of Cards handles this subtle problem by showing little pop up bubbles on screen in real time as the character sends and receives text messages.

This audio-visual storytelling method of illustrating human interaction with devices such as computers and phones feels incredibly innovative and shows just how our brains have progressed in processing information on screen now.

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In our own lives, most people effortlessly hold conversations with people whilst also tap away on their smartphones sending messages to someone else, and although this may have been seen before in shows like Sherlock, the way in which the relatively new method is used in House of Cards works perfectly.

I believe this overlaying technique can be traced back to David Fincher’s Fight Club back in 1999 where Ed Norton talks about his obsessive shopping and as he flips through an Ikea catalogue, product descriptions pop up next to the actual product in his apartment giving the viewer a better understanding of the films character.

BBC’s Sherlock employed something very similar, using an overlay to provide the audience with a glimpse of text messages that allowed the audience an extra insight into both the character and the scene.

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I see what you did there…

I suspect there are many film-makers making notes and we will probably see this technique imitated and overused in the near future and a quick look at the trailer for the new Liam Neeson film Non-Stop seems to confirm that the use of text message overlaying in scenes is rapidly becoming ubiquitous but right now it seems that Netflix are pushing all the right buttons and more importantly boundaries that have restricted so many shows in the past.

Non-Stop jumps on the bandwagon...

Non-Stop jumps on the bandwagon…

How we view entertainment is evolving and the ability to watch high quality shows like House of Cards when you want, where you want and whatever device you want for £5.99 a month will ensure that this viewer will be turning away from conventional TV with its weekly offerings of soaps, reality shows, adverts and obsessions with Z-list celebrities.

You don’t need focus groups to tell you that there are a growing number of people who feel the same so let’s hope that they pay close attention to the constantly evolving medium and that change or clinging to business models of yesteryear will no longer work.