The Pirate Bay are at it again, annoying people from entertainment companies and broadcasters, with the release of a button that allows you to stream films and TV shows, as well as the usual option of being able to swipe it for yourself.
Now, you won’t necessarily have to download a film or show, instead, you’ll be able to stream it in your browser.
This new thing utilises Torrents-Time, which is a plug-in for your browser, which was used by Popcorn Time, which is growing in popularity after people started calling it ‘Netflix for torrents’. The Pirate Bay have added the same technology, which means that you can install the software, and then get a pop-up window which will have a video player with your film or TV show on it.
Handily, you can also use your stream and send it to things like Chromecast, so you can watch your shows on your television, like you would if you were using a subscription service.
“By harnessing the incredible abilities of torrents, you can transform your website, in a matter of seconds to an amazing, simple to use streaming website,” write the Torrents Time crew. Whether or not they’re doing anything dodgy, like previous and similar companies have done, remains to be seen. However, if this sounds like your bag, you know what to do.
Netflix have been having a good time of it of late, adding customers all over the planet – they got themselves 5.59 million new customers in the three months up to the start of 2016, which has them standing at over 74 million people giving them money every month.
Aside from the irritating geographical differences in the service, and the blocks on VPNs that are being enforced, there’s another fly in the ointment; those who have subscribed to Netflix for a long time could see their payments increasing.
Now, this is USA-only at the minute, but what usually happens is that something gets rolled out in America, and then the same things is implemented in the UK.
So what’s happening? Well, those on what is known as ‘grandfathered’ plans (sounds dodgy, but it means those who signed-up ages ago, before newer pricing plans were brought in) who were paying $7.99 for HD streaming will now have a choice to make – they can either stick with paying the same amount, but only get ‘standard definition’, or they can pay $9.99 a month for HD.
Netflix said, when asked about people jumping ship, perhaps to Amazon’s similar service: “Given these members have been with us at least 2 years, we expect only slightly elevated churn.”
Like we said, this is America-only at the minute, but those on similar plans in the UK and elsewhere, will no doubt get a similar offer very soon. Start weighing up what you want to do, now.
Research has shown that the cost of TV packages is rising five times more quickly than wages are. Freesat have been crunching the numbers, and they say that those paying for things like Virgin and Sky TV packages, are watching the prices go up at a rapid rate.
They say that a basic Sky package was £17 in December 2008, but if you get an equivalent package now, it would cost you £30, which is a rise of 76%. As for Virgin TV, a package would be £11 a month, but is £18 now, which is a 63% rise.
Wages have gone up by 14% in the same period. Seeing as Virgin Media have announced that their prices will be going up in February, this is a bit of a dick in the hole.
Freesat’s research show that 42% of consumers feel that they’re being taken advantage of by these price rises, while 45% said that they’re not sure why these price rises happen, as companies aren’t clear enough when explaining them.
Freesat spokesperson Jennifer Elworthy said: “The price of TV packages has increased drastically in the last decade and is becoming unaffordable for many families. People should no longer feel that they need to part with hundreds of pounds each year to watch great entertainment.”
“We know that 99% of the most popular programmes watched on Sky last year were available on free to view channels – that stat along speaks volumes.”
The most popular TV shows last year were The Great British Bake Off, Eastenders, The Voice, Strictly Come Dancing and Britain’s Got Talent, if you’re wondering.
Some people will have received an email, telling them that free iTunes Radio stations will soon not be available – on the 28th January to be precise. Now, these algorithm-generated channels will still be available, but now, they’ll be part of Apple Music, and that requires a subscription.
You’ll still be able to listen to the Beats 1 radio station without subscribing, but you can’t customise that, which might bother some users.
If you’ve been enjoying iTunes Radio, and want to keep using it, then you’re going to have to cough-up £10 per month, although, if you’re a new user, you can get a three month trial for free.
If that doesn’t tickle your pickle, then you can still use Spotify’s free, ad-supported thing, where you can listen to music on desktop and via mobile (although that gives you limited access) and Google Play Music has their free, advert-filled radio stations too. So you’ve got options, if you’re not really prepared to stump-up a subscription.
There’s always normal radio stations too, if this all sounds like a faff, or listening to mixes on Mixcloud. Either way, you won’t be using iTunes Radio for free for very much longer.
We’ve spoken about this a couple of times before, but now the crackdown is real.
Of course, this isn’t the fault of Netflix per se – it is those pesky licensing agreements, which come from the studios and show-makers themselves, leaving Netflix with tied hands.
Netflix are looking at banning users who jump through loopholes to get at the content people in other countries have access to, within the next seven days.
However, knowing that this is tremendously irksome, there’s a small ray of light, as Netflix bosses are looking at expanding the licensing agreements to around the world, as soon as they possibly can. Seeing as their video streaming service is now available in 130 countries, this is good news for a lot of couch-potatoes.
Vice president of content delivery, David Fullagar, says: “If all of our content were globally available, there wouldn’t be a reason for members to use proxies or “unblockers” to fool our systems into thinking they’re in a different country than they’re actually in.”
“In the meantime, we will continue to respect and enforce content licensing by geographic location.”
So, while it is annoying, it also isn’t quite the fault of Netflix. Let us just hope that the studios get their arses in gear and start freeing up all those lovely films, so everyone can watch them. If they don’t, there’s going to more people illegally downloading them to get at them, so it’s their choice really.
If you’re wanting help with what to watch on Netflix, here’s a great tool we stumbled across, which should sort you out.
In a lot of video games now, be they console games, or games that come in app form on your mobile phone/tablet – there’s in-app or in-game purchases. That means, there’s things you can spend real-world money on, while you play.
Now, a lot of people know this, but clearly there’s parents who don’t, because we keep seeing stories where kids have spent ludicrous amounts of money while playing games – because their parents either haven’t told them not to, or haven’t threatened them with all manner of punishments if they go wild with mum and dad’s credit card.
And so, to Lance Perkins from Canada, who has now banned his son from playing on his console, after he spent £5,255.03 while playing FIFA.
“It floored me. Literally floored me, when I’d seen what I was being charged,” he told CBC News. “He thought it was a one-time fee for the game. He’s just as sick as I am, he never believed he was being charged for every transaction, or every time he went onto the game.”
“There will never be another Xbox system—or any gaming system—in my home,” he added.
In this instance, the parent and the child didn’t know the score – but this is 2016 and you really should. If a game has a thing where it says ‘purchase’ in it, you’d be wise to assume that it means ‘spend your actual money from your actual bank account’. Sure, Lance’s son might have an Ultimate Team that is the envy of everyone he knows, but it isn’t much use if he can’t actually play with them because he’s had his Xbox taken off him.
If you’re still unsure, here’s the official low-down on what in-app/in-game purchases entail. In short, if you think it might cost you money, it probably will.
They’re annoying, but they don’t appear to be going anywhere. Don’t register your card with your console, if you’ve got a reckless child in the house.
There’s so much stuff on Netflix, that a lot of things get hidden from you, unless you know exactly what you’re looking for, and can tap it straight into the search function on the app.
Well, here’s some help. If you click here, you’ll see that all of the sub-sections on Netflix are available to you. If you’re signed-in to your account, when you click on each section, you’ll be able to see what films are available to you.
So, you can choose from the usual things that have come up on your menu, but you’ll see that there other ones like ‘political comedies’, ‘b-horror movies’, ‘latin American movies’, ‘steamy thrillers’, and a whole load more. Obviously, you may have seen these options if you watch a lot of them, but you might not have.
The design of this site is helpful and basic, but does look like crap… but don’t let that put you off.
If you want to go even deeper, there’s an extended list here. Hopefully, that’ll cut down on some of the time you spend searching for films, so you can spend your time actually watching them.
CES is all about the technology of the future, but one area is looking backward, rather than forward, and that’s the humble record player. With vinyl sales on the up, record players are making a comeback.
Vinyl sales in the first half of 2015 were at their highest level since 1995, and now, Technics and Sony are getting in on the action, by announcing new record players at CES 2016.
A big name making a return is the Technics SL-1200 turntable. A legend in the DJing world, production of 1200s was stopped in 2010 by parent company Panasonic. However, in 2016, there’s a relaunch, with the Grand Class SL-1200G and 50th anniversary limited edition Grand Class SL-1200GAE .
Basically, they look like the old decks, but have a newly designed direct-drive motor, and Technics have got rid of the iron core from the previous motor of the 1200, and they say it is altogether better in a host of ways. And yes, they’ll be reassuringly heavy.
There’s only going to be 1,200 units sold worldwide, and there’s a strong chance that they’ll be ludicrously expensive.
Away from Technics, Sony have announced that they are going to be offering a new turntable called the PS-HX500. This isn’t a deck designed for DJs with big overdrafts, but rather, it is another record player that is all about converting your favourite records into audio files. Basically, it is a fancy USB turntable.
If you’re into that sort of thing, it is a belt-driven deck, and if you don’t have a stereo or some separates, this has a speaker built into it. It’ll be on sale in April and cost you somewhere in the region of £400. Not exactly cheap, but there you go – that’s having niche interests for you.
Apple were all set to start offering a live internet-based TV service, which is kinda fancy… but they’ve decided to knock it on the head for the time being, instead, focusing on being a platform for companies to sell directly to customers through its App Store.
Everyone’s getting into television, now that Netflix has been such a hit! Even Amazon are making TV shows (which don’t look very good, but what are you going to do?).
Of course, Apple aren’t getting rid of the notion completely, but basically, their plan to sell a package of 14 or so channels for $30 a month has not been wholly welcomed by media companies, as they all seem to want more money from Apple for their shows.
Over in America, pay-TV bundles cost an average of $85 per month, so Apple have got wiggle room to charge more if they want to, as it doesn’t look like the TV companies are going to budge any time soon. CBS chief executive officer Les Moonves thinks it’ll all work out eventually. He said at the Business Insider Ignition conference: “This will happen. It has four major networks and 10 cable networks, let’s say, and the price point will be in the $30s, $30 to $35, $40 maybe. People will not be spending money on channels they don’t want to watch.”
While Apple tangle with the TV stations, they can open the App Store up for developers, so customers can be sold to directly. That’s just selling apps though, isn’t it? Just like every other platform.
Apple will be aware that they need to work fast, as Amazon are also looking at their own live TV service.
Sky and Microsoft are now tag-teaming, meaning that you can now watch Sky on your Xbox One, starting from today. If you’re a Sky customer, you can download Sky’s app on your console, and boom, you’re away. That includes live TV and on-demand stuff.
If you’re not Sky customer and want to try it all out, through your Xbox One, you can upgrade to Sky Go Extra, where you’ll get a free two-month trial. Go to the Xbox Store and we’re sure you’re clever enough to work out the rest on your own.
“Sky Player on Xbox 360 remains one of the most popular apps with our fans, so we’re delighted to bring TV from Sky to Xbox One owners in the UK,” says Harvey Eagle, the UK Marketing Director for Xbox.
Continuing the love-in, Luke Bradley Jones from Sky added: “We’re really excited to add Xbox One to our line-up of supported devices. Xbox One customers can now watch the latest from Sky TV with our big winter line-up including The Last Panthers, Fungus The Bogeyman and Scandal – there’s something for everyone to enjoy.”
Of course, Sky TV is already available on the PS4, and has been around for roughly a year now.
The good thing here, is that these hackers aren’t actually after your money, rather, they’re just freeloading with your user details.
So, if you want to know if someone is using your details, have a look at your ‘recently watched’ section. If looks like a load of things you’ve never watched, and would never, ever want to watch, chances are, someone’s jacked your account.
To stop this from happening, it is a very simple process – go to ‘Your Account’ and hit ‘Sign out of all devices’, which will log you out of every device that has been using it. So if someone miles away has been watching Orange Is The New Black on their phone, you’ll log them out.
Obviously, from there, you’ll have to change your password. Try to ensure it is a different one from your email password and what have you, to make certain that hackers haven’t got it.
Then, you’re away! You’ll be the only one watching what you’ve paid for, and no-one will ever know that you’ve been secretly watching Robinson Crusoe On Mars over and over, like some kind of mad person.
With more and more people refusing to pay their TV licences, the BBC need to find ways of saving money and be better value. So, with that, the BBC Trust has formally approved proposals to close down BBC Three as a regular TV channel. From March 2016, it’ll be moved online.
The Trust provisionally approved the proposals back in June, but now, it is official.
Chair of the Trust’s Services Committee BBC Trustee Suzanna Taverne said: “The decision to close a TV channel is a difficult one, and one we have not taken lightly. The BBC must adapt with its audiences; the evidence is very clear that younger audiences are watching more online and less linear TV.”
“The plans enable the BBC to deliver more distinctive content online, while bearing down on costs; to address concerns about the impact of moving BBC Three online, we have set new requirements for programmes for younger audiences on BBC One and Two.”
Worryingly, that mean we see Russell Howard’s Good News on one of the major channels.
Younger people, of course, do watch more things online and, thanks to most people having a console and other devices, you can watch iPlayer on your big telly anyway. It probably won’t make much difference to the average household.
So what conditions have the BBC Trust imposed on this move?
- All BBC Three long-form content will be transmitted on slots on BBC One and BBC Two on an on-going basis as soon as BBC Three closes on TV.
– BBC Three long-form content will be made available on both BBC One and BBC Two at a variety of times across the schedule and throughout the UK
– A commitment to providing risk-taking space being incorporated in the service licences of BBC One and BBC Two
– A commitment to programmes targeted at younger audiences will be incorporated in the service licences of BBC One and BBC Two
– The online channel should have the same accessibility standards as linear television wherever practicable
This move is going to save the BBC in advance of £50 million, apparently.
Women – do you find it hard to make your mind up? Do you wonder where men get all their music from? Do you wish someone could help you and that little brain of yours? You might be thinking “Shut up, you patronising swine – I can cope perfectly well without you patting me on the head, thank you very much! Cheeky shit.”
This chat is all thanks to Jimmy Iovine, who works for Apple since they bought Beats Music, who was on television being asked about streaming music. He said: “Streaming’s a technology… what this is is a music streaming service. What is does is… sort of gives you 30 million songs, and it serves them up to you and makes it easy to find music.”
“So I always knew that women find it very difficult at times – some women – to find music. And this helps makes it easier with playlists, curated by real people. They’re not made by algorithms alone – they’re made by algorithms but with a human touch.”
There’s a new advert, aimed at women, and Iovine was asked about his concept for it: “I just thought of a problem: girls are sitting around talking about boys, right? Or complaining about boys! When they’re heartbroken or whatever… they need music for that, right? It’s hard to find the right music. Not everyone has, you know, the right list… or knows a DJ.”
Of course, in the scheme of things, Iovine’s comments are fantastically unimportant, but really, you’d think that somewhere in his brain, he’d perhaps consider that women are every bit as nerdy about music as men are. Likewise, there’s men and women who couldn’t give two hoots about music at all.
Either way, this is the latest bad press that Apple have got in the past 12 months – something they can’t seem to avoid lately. They’ve been sued over the WiFi Assistant, had issues with everything crashing after an update, confessed that some of their phones are worse than others, annoyed loads of people with Apple Music’s auto-renewal, and of course, made a man go on a hilarious rant. The response from Apple customers on social media has been, shall we say, on the venomous side.
He’s since apologised about his remarks, but Apple need to get shipshape and, while they’re at it, stop executive patronising their customers.
The ugly scrapping between BT and Sky continues this week, with a decision by Ofcom to ditch a load of rules, which would normally force Sky to provide channels Sky Sports 1 and 2, to rivals at a controlled price.
Ofcom have said that the Wholesale Must Offer obligation (WMO) isn’t necessary any longer, as Sky had demonstrated that it was willing enough to offer their sports channels to their competitors on commercial terms.
The regulator added that Sky’s introduction of NowTV, and BT’s buying of football rights, shows that the market is more competitive than when the rules were initially brought in, so the end of WMO could see BT customers unable to watch Sky Sports 1 and 2.
This is far from over though, as BT are looking at their legal options after the decision from Ofcom. A spokesperson called this move “very disappointing”, adding: “We will consider our legal options in the light of this decision and, in the meantime, continue to offer our customers access to Sky Sports 1 and 2.”
“Ofcom has said it is important for pay-TV retailers to have access to key Sky content to be able to compete effectively in this market, and that they want consumers to have access to these channels. We therefore expect Sky to behave appropriately so that we can continue to offer our customers access.”
“We still believe that effective remedies are essential to address the failure of competition in the Pay TV market, in which we estimate Sky has had around 75pc share of retail subscription revenues for more than 10 years.”
This row has been going on for years now, with claim and counterclaim being batted back and forth over deals on sports channels. Sky argue that BT have basically refused to let BT Sport to be included in a Sky subscription, while BT has claimed that Sky has been undermining competition in sports rights by exploiting their dominance.
As it stands, BT will now have to have commercial negotiations with Sky without WMO, and seeing as this is so petty and longstanding, Sky may price out BT, leaving their customers without the goods.