Saturday, April 02, 2011

Digital Digest: Netflix - The Future of Digital Home Media?

Welcome to Digital Digest, our weekly blog feature about all things digital in the world of sitcoms! We have another slow news week this week (as typical), but we also have a blog feature story about Netflix and how it may just be the future of digital home media. Let's get going!


DIGITAL NEWS

The Simpsons is a series that will seemingly never end, and as long as it is continuing, DVDs have to continue too, of course! Although the series still has quite a ways to go to be caught up with the current season, the fourteenth season is on the horizon for later this summer, though an exact date is not yet known. It is expected that it will contain plenty of special features (as always) and there will likely be a Blu-ray Disc release of the season.

In keeping up with the trends of releasing value-priced "best of" collections of series, Universal is now getting into the game with four separate releases containing "best" episodes of some of their classic 80s action dramas. Set to be released on June 14 at a $14.98 MSRP, be on the lookout for two-disc sets of The A-Team, Knight Rider, Magnum, P.I., and Miami Vice.

The Wonder Years is a series that seems as if it will never get a DVD release, and that is too bad... but don't lose hope on seeing it in a digital format! A recently announced deal between Twentieth Century Fox and Netflix is about to make the series available for streaming online for Netflix subscribers! This isn't a total victory for everybody waiting to see the series on DVD, but it is significant in that it finally provides a way for fans to watch the series at their leisure. It isn't available just yet, but hopefully it will be soon. We have more on Netflix in our feature story today.


UPCOMING WEEK PREVIEW

Tuesday (April 5) brings us only one release in the sitcom world, with House of Payne - Volume 7. We hope to have a review of this set soon.


BLOG FEATURE STORY

Netflix - The Future of Home Media?
by skees53

Just two weeks ago, we talked about how physical home media could be dying out. It sounded like all gloom and doom, but it isn't. We've talked about Netflix on here several times (even before Digital Digest started), and how they began streaming TV series online, and in many cases not just a few isolated episodes but entire series.

It really all started a few years with a few series from the Universal library, but it has widely expanded now to include many other series. As we mentioned earlier in today's Digital Digest, a new deal was recently announced that will bring library series, including The Wonder Years (which has only seen two single episode DVD releases, both of which have been out of print for over a decade) and Ally McBeal, among other Fox library series to Netflix.

It all sounds promising, and they will be far from alone when they join Netflix. Already, you can enjoy every episode or at least many episodes of series including 3rd Rock from the Sun, 30 Rock, The Addams Family, Arrested Development, Cheers, The Cosby Show, The Dick Van Dyke Show, Family Guy, Futurama, The Munsters, The Office, Roseanne, Scrubs, Soap, South Park, That '70s Show, and many more series, including edited versions of episodes from every season of Saturday Night Live. For just a low monthly fee, you can watch all of these programs at any time you want.

The most obvious way to watch this programming is through your computer (you can view them on any Windows or Mac computer), but there are even better ways that you can watch the programming. We'll start with the "big picture." If you have a TV (which I'm sure that just about everybody reading this blog does), you can buy certain Blu-ray players and even televisions that have Netflix capabilities built right into them, provided that you have an active internet connection. You can also watch the programming on all of the major current video game systems, including those from Sony, Nintendo, and Microsoft. And if you don't have any of those, there are still even more options out there, including Apple TV. But what if you want to go portable? Well, if you own any one of Apple's current wi-fi or 3G enabled "portable devices," such as the iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad, you can even download a free app from the App Store that will allow you to watch all of this programming anywhere you go provided that you have an active subscription. And recently, a test application for Android devices was leaked online, although it isn't functional, but it does suggest that an Android app is on the way.

There are downfalls, however. A series becoming available on Netflix is not a permanent arrangement. When you purchase a DVD, you own that DVD for life, and unless your home is burglarized or destroyed, you own that DVD forever. With Netflix, everything comes down to limited term deals which decide when a series will be available on there and how long it will be available on there. There are many series which were previously available on Netflix such as Gimme a Break!, Simon & Simon, and The Twilight Zone (just to name a few) that are no longer available to view on there at any price. There could be multiple explanations as to why they were removed; maybe they weren't popular enough among fans, maybe they removed them so that they could free up server space for new programming, or maybe content deals for the series expired. Additionally, if you stop paying your monthly fee for Netflix, you obviously won't be able to access this programming anymore.

Another potential problem is streaming issues and quality. In a perfect world, we'd all have an internet connection that runs at the speed of light with no hiccups at all. But we live in a world where we still have internet connections that, while being much better than the 14K than we used about a decade and a half ago, are still not ready for all of this streaming activity. As a result, when you watch many of these programs on Netflix (as well as other streaming video sources), you may occasionally have your program stopped for buffering and won't necessarily get a picture that is up to par with true high definition quality. That isn't to say that some people won't get great results a majority of the time, but very rarely is streaming video as easy and reliable as sticking a DVD or Blu-ray Disc into your player and watching it play smoothly (assuming that the disc isn't damaged).

Still, streaming video seems to be the future of home media, for better or for worse. And it appears that as time goes on, it will get better, and it will provide us with more options than physical media could have ever dreamed of offering us. I was hesitant to use it at first, but once I finally signed up for Netflix a little over a year ago, I realized that the streaming video is the best part of it, and it places a very large library of programming into your hands at a relatively low price, with benefits of being portable and no organization of DVDs to worry about. Hopefully, as time goes on, we'll have the ability to watch just about any episode of any series that we want to watch at the palm of our hands, although it would certainly be best if DVDs and Blu-rays (or their higher-tech future replacements, whatever they may be) continued on into the future for those who want the thrill of ownership of their favorite programs.


LOOKING AHEAD

We come to an end for this week's Digital Digest, and we hope that you are logging in or signing up for Netflix right now to watch the great programming that is already on there and anticipating what is to come! We hope to have more positive news regarding Netflix and other similar services in the upcoming weeks, but of course, we hope to have more DVD and Blu-ray news as well! In the upcoming weeks, you'll see some reviews of even more classic Hanna-Barbera animated series from the Warner Archive Collection. Until then, keep it digital!


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Friday, November 16

Fresh Off the Boat - "Sub Standard" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Jessica and Louis are thrilled beyond belief when they discover that a Chinese family – Elaine (Ming-Na Wen), Julius (Reggie Lee) and son, Horace (Jimmy O. Yang) – have moved into the neighborhood. Jessica immediately bonds with Elaine, who helps her solve an issue with the HOA, and Louis decides to introduce Julius to Marvin and hang out together. Meanwhile, when Evan goes door-to-door collecting information for the census bureau, Eddie and Emery come up with a plan to impersonate being census takers in order to find out when the owners of a pool are out of the house so they can sneak over and use it.

Speechless - "C-E-- CELEBRITY S-U-- SUITE" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When the DiMeos land in the hospital on Thanksgiving, Maya’s determination to save the holiday leads to an uneasy truce with her rival, Melanie Hertzal (Sarah Chalke); and Jimmy gets jealous when Kenneth bonds with his brother, Billy (Rob Corddry). Meanwhile, wounds from an old breakup are re-opened, but Ray finds brand-new love in an unlikely place.

Last Man Standing - "Dreams vs. Realty" (Fox, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Mandy struggles with rejection as a fashion designer; Vanessa feels regret about her career path.

The Cool Kids - "Thanksgiving at Murray's" (Fox, 8:30PM ET/PT)
When Margaret gets an invite to an exclusive potluck for Thanksgiving, she takes Sid with her.

Andi Mack - "Cookie Monster" (Disney Channel, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Andi, Bowie and Bex are surprised by an impromptu visit by Bowie's mother; while hanging out with T.J.'s friends, Cyrus faces a dangerous situation; Buffy and Jonah learn a secret about their school principal.

Coop & Cami Ask the World - "Would You Wrather Get Lost?" (Disney Channel, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Jenna warns Coop and Cami they have to start taking better care of their little brother, Ollie, or he won't be able to be their test pilot on the show anymore; the duo tries to step up, but winds up losing Ollie at the mall.

Raven's Home - "Winners and Losers" (Disney Channel, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Booker and Nia are excited to be named student ambassadors of their school, until they learn that their first job is to welcome Mitch as a new student.

The Paynes - "Social Media'd" (OWN, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Nyla and Kendrick reconnect.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of November 12)

Friday, November 16

  • Melissa McCarthy (Mike & Molly/Samantha Who?) - Watch Melissa on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC.
  • Sarah Jessica Parker (Divorce/Sex and the City/Square Pegs) - Sarah is a guest on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • Johnny Galecki (The Big Bang Theory/Roseanne) - Johnny appears on a repeat of The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Reid Scott (Veep/My Boys/It's All Relative) - Reid is a guest on a repeat of Last Call with Carson Daly at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Jodie Sweetin (Fuller House/Hollywood Darlings/Full House) - Jodie guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • NeNe Leakes (The New Normal) - NeNe guest co-hosts The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Dylan McDermott (LA to Vegas) - Dylan stops by The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Lisa Edelstein (The Kominsky Method/Leap of Faith/Almost Perfect) - Lisa visits The Real, so check your local listings.
  • Joe Morton (Grady) - Joe is a guest on Access Live, so check your local listings.
  • Dan Fogler (Man Up!) - Dan appears on Rachael Ray, so check your local listings. He will also be on the BUILD Series at 2pm.
  • Ron Howard (Happy Days/The Andy Griffith Show) - Ron opens up about surviving Hollywood as a child actor on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.
  • Erin Cahill (Free Ride) - Erin talks about the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries original Last Vermont Christmas on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 10am ET/PT.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (October/November)

The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection Alice - The Complete Eighth Season Step by Step - The Complete Third Season

10/02 - The Beverly Hillbillies - The Official Fifth Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 6th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 7th Season
10/02 - Bob's Burgers - The Complete 8th Season
10/02 - Ghosted - The Complete First Season
10/02 - The Love Boat - Season Four - Volume One / Volume Two
10/02 - Police Squad! - TV and Movie Collection
10/02 - Saved by the Bell - The Complete Collection
10/16 - Community - The Complete Series (Mill Creek)
10/23 - Alice - The Complete Eighth Season
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Two
10/24 - The Odd Couple (2015) - Season Three
10/31 - The Bad News Bears - The Complete Series - All 26 Episodes
11/01 - Episodes - Season 5
11/05 - Robin Williams - Comic Genius (includes Mork & Mindy)
11/06 - American Dad! - Volume 13
11/20 - Step by Step - The Complete Third Season
11/27 - What I Like About You - The Complete Third Season
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest