VIDEO STREAMING PROJECT

Introduction

Take a quick look at THIS article.

That article will serve as an introduction to the high-stakes world of online streaming. Vudu (Walmart), Netflix, Amazon Prime, CBS All Access and soon to be services from Warner Brothers, Disney, NBC and who-knows-who-else.

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We will concentrate on three of the largest: VUDU, AMAZON and NETFLIX to help us answer the investigative question:

Why does VUDU have such a HIGHER degree of streaming video quality as compared to Amazon and Netflix?

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VUDU

Vudu is a bit different from the other 'streaming services' in that they offer ONLY high def movies for rent or for sale. Also, Vudu makes their money on a per-item sale or rent rather than a monthly subscription.

They also REQUIRE that users/purchasers obtain a certain minimum bandwidth for each of their 3 types of HD files (SD, HD and UD).

VUDU does offer limited Free content that is supported by minimal advertising.

Additionally, VUDU is just barely starting to dip their toes into original content (Mr Mom, really?)

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NETFLIX:

According to THIS article, Netflix has 60 million US household subscribers each paying about $9.00 per month. Basic math says "WHOA, that's $54 million dollars PER MONTH" just in the US.

Not to mention the OTHER 100 million international subscribers. YIKES! That's a bucket load of cash!

Netflix offers award winning original content (think "Stranger Things") along with some very odd "what-were-they-thinking-when-they-made-that" shows such as the currently running "In the Shadow of the Moon").

They also offer movies from major and minor studios (MR W says take a gander at "Radius" sometime... check with your folks first tho) as well as a large number of foreign language and foreign-language-dubbed-into-English movies.

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AMAZON

Amazon is a Free/Subscription/Purchase/Rent hybrid. Anyone who has purchased Amazon Prime (Something like 100 million Americans) has access to the Amazon Prime Streaming Service.

Amazon has a large and always changing library of movies to watch for free, or to rent or to buy. It can be pretty much hit or miss to find the movie you want. Sometimes you have to pay, sometimes you don't.

Additionally, Amazon has a number of original content programs.

Oddly enough, Amazon also offers subscribers the opportunity to subscribe to their competitors programming from within Amazon PRIME.

HUH? Subscribers can add additional subscriptions to HBO, ShowTime, CBS All Access etc... for an additional monthly fee of course.

By the by, did you know that Netflix is actually hosted on Amazons ever-growing Amazon Web Services (AWS) platform?

Side Note: I'm working with our Tech manager to try to get us educational (free) access to education tools/servers on AWS for next semester!

They also don't seem to care too much about the video experience. My best guess is they leave it up to the subscribers to try and get the best bandwidth they can.

If you've ever tried to watch an Amazon movie on a TV with crappy internet bandwidth you know what I'm sayin'....

DISNEY

Although we're not going to discuss Disney in our Socratic Seminar, it is very definitely worth mentioning.

Disney is planning to make it's entire Disney Catalog (think Snow White, Sound of Music, Lion King), Marvel Catalog (they have ALMOST all Marvel movies, 'cept Fantastic Four and X-men <I think>), Star Wars, Pixar etc ad nauseum. They are planning to off that service for somewhere around $6 a month. But they've already got nearly 100 years worth of movies already made!

Sooooooo... Disney will CLEARLY be a force to reckoned with since they're looking at hundreds of millions PER MONTH for people to watch movies already made.... wow.

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CBS All Access

Boo. I can't watch "Star Trek Discovery" or the Star Trek Shorts or "Star Trek Picard" (out next year), or the animated "Star Trek Below Decks" (out sometime) without paying.

I don't want to watch CBS programming for the last 70 years (I already watched Hawaii 5-0 and Magnum P-I back in the day) so I'm not gonna pay.

But Boo.

Did I say Boo?

Boo again!

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HULU

I don't know nothin' about Hulu, sorry.

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ANYWHO.....

Hopefully you can see the importance of quality streaming service.

Our goal is to more fully understand two main concepts to streaming:

BUFFERING and COMPRESSION

Which, I hope you agree, are closely related.

You're job is to gain a basic, but technical understanding of the compression/buffering techniques used by Netflix, VUDU and Amazon to help us answer our investigative question:

 

Why is VUDU (they ONLY offer HD) video quality SO MUCH BETTER than Amazon and Netflix?

 

Be prepared to come to class with a well informed understanding of video streaming, especially in regards to data compression.

We'll work to setup our classroom rules/expectations for the Socratic Seminar.

 

I'll simply observe and will take no part in the conversation whatsoever. I'll have a preprinted matrix of everyone in the class with room for my comments and moving assessments:

You will be assessed based on your input using the following scale for EACH contribution:

+,  √+,  ,  √- or  -

If your comments significantly help to advance the conversation I'll note a "+" on the matrix for that comment.

If your comments are significantly inaccurate or otherwise detract (this isn't the time or place to be be clever) from the conversation I'll note a '-' on the matrix.

Everything in-between gets marked in-between those two.

Therefore if the conversation is fast moving I can make checks and such and then add comments when time permits.

YOUR JOB:

Be prepared to make significant contributions to our discussion.

You should apply the GOLDILOCKS standard:

  • Don't talk too much
  • Don't talk too little
  • Don't talk too loud
  • Don't talk too soft
  • Don't be vague
  • Don't be ultra-technical

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NOW pease work with your group to come up with the conditions under which we'll engage in the Socratic Seminar.