Auntie Beeb is going to cut 1,000 jobs, thanks to a £150m shortfall in licence fee income, according to director general Tony Hall. He told BBC staff that the corporation were adjusting to a reduction in the number of people watching live television, which in basic terms, means that there are fewer people paying for the licence fee.
Hall said to staff: “A simpler, leaner, BBC is the right thing to do and it can also help us meet the financial challenges we face. We’ve already significantly cut the costs of running the BBC, but in times of very tough choices we need to focus on what really matters – delivering outstanding programmes and content for all our audiences.”
This is all part of a plan that sees the BBC havin to make £1.5bn of savings a year by 2017, which is a terrifying amount of money. The corporation, as well as job losses, are looking at reducing the amount of cash spent on property and sports rights.
The BBC said in a statement: “Despite the progress already made, and the realities of the licence fee being frozen for seven years, a new financial challenge means additional savings must now be found.”
“The licence fee income in 2016/17 is now forecast to be £150 million less than it was expected to be in 2011. This is because as more people use iPlayer, mobiles and online catch-up, the number of households owning televisions is falling.”
“It also provides further evidence of the need for the licence fee to be modernised to cover digital services.”
Now, hands-up if you’re thinking that the British Broadcasting Corporation could save millions and millions from paying a number of their big stars a bit less money?
Well, the movie streaming service has launched PAYG top-ups, which is great if you don’t know how to work a torrent or, indeed, a fine last-minute gift for someone who you can’t be bothering thinking about for too long.
It appears that it’ll work in the same way you top-up a PAYG mobile, where you can buy £15, £25 or £50 in credit which will be added to your Netflix account. Then, you can spend it on a Netflix package or whatever.
So if you’re annoyed that you can’t watch Netflix exclusives like Orange Is The New Black, or House of Cards, then this is your way in (if you want to do everything above board). This will be good for parents who don’t want to give their kids their credit card to pay for Netflix too.
There you have it. Pay as you go movies and TV shows.
When Tidal launched, the assembled musicians stood around Jay Z, nodding gravely about how they were collectively going to save the music industry. In fact, the way they were going on, you’d be forgiven for thinking that they were going to save the world.
Well, everyone didn’t take too quickly to the service, preferring to stay with Spotify or indeed, waiting for Apple to get their thing going. It was seen as an immediate flop.
And now, a mere 3 months into the job, the chief executive of the service has quit. Peter Tonstad took on the gig after Tidal sacked previous honcho Andy Chen. At the time Tidal said Tonstad “has a better understanding of the industry and a clear vision for how the company is looking to change the status quo”.
At the moment, Tidal has around 800,000 subscribers. If you compare that to Spotify’s 20 million, you can see what a difficult job they’ve got on their hands. When Apple get going, the competition will be much, much tougher.
In a statement Tidal said: “We are thankful to Peter for stepping in as interim CEO and wish him the best for the future. Tidal will be transitioning to a permanent CEO as part of our strategic plan to create a leading platform, and current executives in New York and Oslo will continue to lead our rapidly developing innovation and content initiatives until our new CEO is in place.”
Should they just hang up their headphones already?
There’s been a bit of fuss and brow-furrowing about Apple’s new music streaming service, with Anton Newcombe calling the company ‘satanic’ during a rant about their strong-arm tactics with musicians, and as previously reported, were accused of bullying Taylor Swift.
A big grievance from musicians is that they were being asked to offer their music for free for Apple’s 3-month trial for their streaming service, and Taylor Swift – who of course took her music off Spotify (or her people did) – spoke out against it. She said that ”it is unfair to ask anyone to work for nothing”.
Swift said that it would hurt young artists trying to break into the music industry, and referred to the decision as “shocking” and “disappointing”.
“We don’t ask you for free iPhones. Please don’t ask us to provide you with our music for no compensation,” she wrote in a blog post entitled “To Apple, Love Taylor” on Tumblr.
She echoed what a lot of independent labels had said and now, Apple have said that they’re listening, and will pay royalties during the free trial period.
Apple executive Eddy Cue said that these criticisms from Taylor Swift highlighted what had already been said, and he tweeted: ”Apple will always make sure that artists are paid. AppleMusic will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period. We hear you taylorswift13 and indie artists. Love, Apple.”
In response, Swift tweeted: “I am elated and relieved. Thank you for your words of support today. They listened to us.” She then pointed out that she wasn’t necessarily making a stand for herself, but rather, new bands who aren’t nearly as wealthy as her, who stood to go without getting paid for a quarter of a year’s worth of plays.
Sky are releasing a new version of their Now TV box, offering everyone the chance to get a monthly pass to Sky Sports channels for the first time. However, it will not be offering Full HD playback of Sky content.
The new hardware is capable of Full HD, but the Now TV streams are limited to 720p, and it looks like Sky have no plans to enhance the quality of the streams at the time being. So, if you’re a nerd about these things and were looking at getting one of these boxes, you might want to think again.
The new Now TV box has an added ethernet port, which means you don’t have to rely on a wireless connection, should yours be a bit ropey. Sky reckon the new device has a processor that’s five time as fast as the one in its predecessor, which is nice.
And what’s this about monthly sports TV? Well, Sky are introducing a new monthly Sports Pass to accompany the the daily (£6.99) and weekly (£10.99) passes that are currently on offer. A Sky Sports Month Pass will set you back £31.99 and you’ll be able to get access to all of the broadcaster’s sports channels, including Sky Sports F1.
The main difference with this, and the normal subscription, is that the Sky Now passes don’t require you to sign-up for a long-term commitment.
Anyway, if you haven’t signed up with Netflix yet, it’ll cost you £7.49 a month for access to the Standard option. Or, if you don’t want extra accounts and HD options, then you can pay for the £5.99 deal.
Of course, there’s the ‘free’ first month for new subscribers, as per, but you’ll you’ll be paying 50p more once that’s up.
You might not mind though, because you might be thinking that you’ll actively save money because, instead of going down the pub, you’ll spend all your free time on the sofa, working your ass-groove while binge watching Orange Is The New Black.
So there you go.
Stuffing your face with takeaway pizza while watching films is a god given right, so with that, Pizza Hut have come up with a neat idea. They’ve created a pizza box that you can transform into a movie projector, powered by your smartphone.
They call it the ‘Blockbuster Box’ and, the magic happens with the little plastic table thing that you get in your pizza. This one is different from the normal white plastic affair, as it has a lens in the middle of it, which you insert into the side of your pizza box after you poke out the perforated hole in the side.
Then, all you do is place your phone in the Blockbuster Box, and the lens will project your video onto a wall.
And if you don’t have Netflix, or still haven’t worked out that loads of people put full length films on YouTube yet, then Pizza Hut has printed a QR code on each box, which you can scan with your phone and get a free film.
Sadly, this is only a thing in Hong Kong at the moment, which means we’ll all have to wait and see if they roll it out across the rest of the world. They should, because it is a brilliant marketing idea. Of course, if you don’t want to wait, you could buy a magnifying glass and cut a hole out of a shoe box or whatever, and just make your own version.
Here’s a video of the Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box.
Of course, this is BT trying to claw back some money after throwing it around for football rights. Sky, of course, coughed up £1.4bn for Premier League rights, which saw BT throwing £320 million per season, at it.
Plans have been leaked and it looks like BT’s customers will soon have to pay a little extra, which is particularly galling if you consider that some of the money will end up in Robbie Savage’s pocket – is there no justice in the world?
It isn’t clear if this money will be a blanket charge for all those wanting to watch BT Sports, or whether it’ll be for a premium service that includes the UEFA Champions League and Europa League matches, which of course, BT won the rights for last year.
BT aren’t commenting on the rumours, saying that they will be revealing their plans “in due course”. That means they definitely want to announce something, and with money to make back, it looks like a price rise for those who want in.
BT Sport have announced the launch on a new pay channel to host their European matches next season – some customers will have it included in their existing package while some will have to pay an extra £5 to watch games from the Champions and Europa League.
On the channel, the presenting and punditry teams will see some new faces, in Rio Ferdinand, Steven Gerrard, Glenn Hoddle, and MOTD’s Gary Lineker will be on presenting duties.
This is according to blabber mouth Sony Music CEO Doug Morris, so blorted the secret to guests at the Midem Music Industry Festival. He said, yesterday, that Apple’s announcement of the Beats-based service is “happening tomorrow”.
Of course, there’s no chat about prices or what features it’ll have, but Apple have a lot of money to throw around, so this should be of some concern to Spotify and Tidal. And of course, with so many people feeling some kind of brand-loyalty to Apple, there’s millions of people who might want to jump ship from another service, to theirs.
However, one thing that could make or break Apple’s music service, is whether or not it is open to everyone. One of Spotify’s successes is that it wasn’t restricted to one platform, meaning the Android users and Apple users could share playlists with one another. And artists won’t want to sign any exclusivity deals if it means they’re cutting out loads of listeners.
Imagine a band in the ’90s saying that their new album would only be playable through Sony stereos and no other – that’d be madness. Either way, Apple aren’t daft, so they’ll have something up their sleeves to get their fans excited – users of torrents, you can carry on ignoring absolutely everything relating to the above.
However, that might be changing as they’ve announced that they’re going to be testing pre-roll and post-roll adverts on some users. Obviously, if they deem it a success, they’ll roll it out at everyone.
It looks like the commercials will only be for Netflix’s original content – so shows like Orange is the New Black, House of Cards and that cartoon about a sarcastic horse.
Still, any worries of third-party adverts should be assuaged by Netflix themselves.
A Netflix spokesperson said: “We are not planning to test or implement third-party advertising on the Netflix service. For some time, we’ve teased Netflix originals with short trailers after a member finishes watching a show. Some members in a limited test now are seeing teases before a show begins. We test hundreds of potential improvements to the service every year. Many never extend beyond that.”
Can you cope with that while you’re binge watching boxsets of TV shows?
Spotify have been shaking things up, now that Tidal is coming after them, with the announcement that they’ll be providing original video content and more.
As previously mentioned, the music-streamers are also teaming up with Strabucks, turning everyone in the stores into DJs – but how will it all work? Well, Starbucks are going to use Spotify as a way to turn its loyalty program into a source of revenue.
The baristas will soon be able to create custom playlists through Spotify in their outlets, which hopefully means more interesting tunes while you drink your joe – coffee chains have the most awful corporate playlists imaginable, so anything is a bonus really.
If you’re drinking your coffee and hate the selections made by staff, then no fear – you can use your Starbucks points to get your songs played on the Spotify playlist. We await people asking for profanity laden hip hop and 20 minute prog tracks, for the japes.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Mansun’s ‘Taxloss’ and Johnny Cash’s ‘After Taxes’ get a sudden spike in interest.
Of course, this is all good corporate sense, as Spotify gets access to Starbucks reward program and the chance to try and woo the huge amount of customers that Starbucks have, while Starbucks can now open up their loyalty points to all manner of things outside of their own coffee shops. It’ll also encourage people to sign-up for the loyalty schemes too. Looks like a win-win from here, if people are keen.
This Spotify/Starbucks tagteam will kick off in the USA, before launching in Canada and then the UK.
Spotify have clearly noticed that Jay Z’s Tidal is coming after it, and have decided to shake things up a bit. Of course, Tidal hasn’t exactly set the world alight (yet), but shows signs of what it can do when it streamed Beyonce and Nicki Minaj’s ‘Flawless’ video, sending social media into a mild hysteria.
With that, Spotify have announced that they’re expanding into video and original content themselves, going beyond simply streaming albums. With a number of artists showing allegiance to Jay Z, Spotify need to think of other ways of turning a profit.
Now, Spotify will support videos and offer news as well as other non-music content, with chief exec Daniel Ek keeping an eye on everyone’s mobile phone use: ”There is an incredible opportunity to soundtrack your entire day and your entire life in all of its complexity,” said Ek at some conference or other.
Ek says that Spotify have buddied up with a load of media companies, including some big US networks, the BBC, Vice and, most interestingly, the comedy network Adult Swim. They’ll be providing podcasts and other productions from their media pals, and they’re going to be providing their own material as well.
It seems to be working for Netflix, so why not Spotify?
If you’re one of those appalling people who likes to go for runs, then you’ll be interested in Spotify’s new function that will detect motion through your smartphone and select music based on the pace you’re running. Is there any music that is 23 bpm?
“We think that music is moving beyond just linear, one-way playback,” said Spotify’s chief product officer, Gustav Soderstrom. ”We’re going to take this approach to many more parts of your life very soon.” We assume they’re doing to do something relating to your activities in the bedroom, which matches the rhythm of your love-making. Do they make music that’s 7 bpm?
Along with an increased social element, this gives Spotify the opportunity to make more money from advertising and the like. Earlier this week, Spotify announced that they were teaming up with Starbucks, which will give staff the chance to choose tracks you hear at the coffee chain’s outlets.
So, for now, it is Spotify versus Tidal. All eyes on Apple’s updated streaming service, which should be coming soon.
Now, over 1,000 homes per day are getting rid of their TVs and not paying for their licence fee by watching shows on catch-up or on other subscription services. According to figures, over half a million households said that they no longer have television sets.
With people increasingly picking up tablets and other devices, that number is only likely to increase, with people opting out of paying for the licence fee by watching shows on catch-up. Obviously, the BBC would like to see all this locked-down, while others would like to see the BBC moving away from a compulsory licence, to a more modern voluntary subscription package.
A BBC spokesman said: “We’ve repeatedly said that the licence fee should be modernised to include people watching catch-up TV and we’ll discuss the best way of doing this as we approach the renewal of our charter.”
If you watch things on iPlayer, all you get is a very polite: ‘Don’t forget, to watch TV online as it’s being broadcast, you still need to be covered by a TV Licence.’
There’s a feeling among many that, if the BBC thinks it is good enough, then it will be confident that it could survive with a similar subscription package to Sky or Netflix.
Channel 5’s former chief executive David Elstein reckons: “More and more people are going to twig that if they dispose of their fixed television and watch on a phone, tablet or laptop, the BBC will no longer chase them [for the licence fee]. That 1,000 a day will turn into 2,000 a day. Why would you pay £145.50 a year if you don’t have to?”
If you’ve bought a film in a physical format lately, you may have got an Ultraviolet code with it. If you don’t know what that is, it basically allows users to watch your movie on any device away from your DVD/Blu Ray player.
Ultraviolet – which is owned by Sony, Universal, Paramount, Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox – has been a handy for some, and performance-wise, a disappointment to others.
It has been profitable for some, with people selling their Ultraviolet codes on eBay. One user who has been doing this has been accused of copyright infringement. Whenever they bought a new film, they’d flog their unused code and people would buy them for around $6.
The studios aren’t happy, unsurprisingly.
Here’s what the eBay user said: “I picked up “Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol” on Blu-ray this morning. It came with a digital download code good for a free Ultraviolet copy of the movie. As Ultraviolet is worthless to me, I listed the code on eBay. Within a few hours of the listing going up, eBay took it down for copyright infringement. They warned me not to list it again, or my account would be suspended.”
“I called their customer service number to explain that the listing was taken down in error, and the helpful lady on the phone was much more concerned with the fact that there was no birth date attached to an 11-year-old eBay account. Once we got that taken care of (she literally refused to help me until I tied my birthday to my account), she basically just kept reading and rereading the email to me over and over again.”
“Now, let’s forget the fact that I’ve sold Ultraviolet codes on eBay before. Let’s also forget the fact that, right this very second, there are a boat-load (metaphorically, not literally – that would be weird) of Ultraviolet code auctions live. How, exactly, are they able to claim Ultraviolet codes as copyright infringement? It’s a product. It’s barely different from me selling a physical copy of the Blu-ray that I don’t want, or the third disc in the set which is a DVD copy I’ll never use. And why are they enforcing this imaginary policy selectively?”
“Is this an awful lot of trouble to go through just to make, at most, $5? Yes, it is. However, I’m self employed, and today is a slow day.”
Officially speaking, it seems that you would have to sell the physical copy alongside the UV code, if you want to stay out of trouble with the movie studios.
There’s also a chance that those buying the codes could be chased for copyright infringement too. While this might seem like a remarkable waste of everyone’s time and a bit daft, let us not forget who we are dealing with here – movie studios, who are almost entirely made up of daft people with remarkable amounts of time to waste.
If you’re selling yours, watch your back.
According to The Verge, they’ve heard all manner of things from sources, and it is being suggested that Apple wants to throw around their power and influence to put an end to free streaming. ”All the way up to [Apple CEO] Tim Cook, these guys are cutthroat,” said one music industry mole.
If Apple get their way, Spotify will lose a huge chunk of their customers – 15 million currently pay for the service, of their 60 million customer base. Playing hardball, Apple will reportedly be offering their service for $7.99 per month, which is less than Spotify’s $9.99 fee.
But will the swathes of people who don’t own any Apple products – and indeed, those who object to the company as a whole on some principal (be it tribal or other) – want to sign up with them? It would be a risky move for the record companies, but then, they’ll go wherever the money is.
The sources said that Apple are also going after Google, saying that the iSalesmen offered to pay YouTube’s music licensing fee to Universal Music Group if they stopped allowing their songs on the video platform.
One hurdle is that the US Department of Justice have apparently already started interviews with music industry executives regarding Apple’s business practices. If the sources are right, the whole thing is a bit suspect, eh?
We’re sure to find out more when Apple launch Beats Music, which is widely thought to be on 8th June.