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

Wednesday, February 19

The Goldbergs - "Dave Kim's Party" (ABC, 8:00PM ET/PT)
A big party is being thrown at Dave Kim’s house and Pops has a plan to make Adam cool for the big event. Meanwhile, Beverly’s cookbook has made her “famous,” leading her to become out of control and fame-hungry, but eventually she learns an important lesson.

Schooled - "Moving On" (ABC, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Wilma steps in to help CB move on from Lainey with help from Coach Mellor, while Lainey learns she has unresolved issues from her past when mentoring a student.

Modern Family - "Spuds" (ABC, 9:00PM ET/PT)
Phil and Claire take Haley and Dylan to dinner to reassure them they are not bad parents. While out to dinner, they run into Mitch and Cam who are chaperoning Lily’s first date, as well as Jay and Gloria after attending Joe’s school play.

Single Parents - "Hip$ for Dolores" (ABC, 9:30PM ET/PT)
After rent on the Winebrary goes up, the gang all chip in in their own ways to help solve Poppy’s new financial problem, each learning a valuable lesson in the process.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of February 17)

Wednesday, February 19

  • Chris Pratt (Parks and Recreation) - Watch Chris on a repeat of Jimmy Kimmel Live! at 11:35pm on ABC. He will also be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Lil Rel Howery (Rel/The Carmichael Show) - Lil Rel appears on a repeat of The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Laura Dern (F Is for Family/Enlightened) - Laura is a guest on a repeat of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert at 11:35pm on CBS.
  • Tiffany Haddish (The Last O.G./The Carmichael Show) - Tiffany appears on a repeat of Late Night with Seth Meyers at 12:36am on NBC.
  • James Marsden (30 Rock) - James stops by The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Lizzy Caplan (Party Down/The Class) - Lizzy is a guest on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Jane Levy (Suburgatory) - Jane visits The Talk on CBS at 2pm ET/1pm CT-PT.
  • Skylar Astin (Ground Floor) - Skylar appears on 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.
  • Adam Pally (Indebted/Making History/The Mindy Project/Happy Endings) - Adam drops by The Wendy Williams Show, so check your local listings.
  • Ken Jeong (Dr. Ken/Community) - Ken is a guest on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Jurnee Smollett-Bell (On Our Own) - Jurnee appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Da'Vine Joy Randolph (High Fidelity/People of Earth/Selfie) - Da'Vine talks about High Fidelity on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.
  • Suzanne Somers (Step by Step/She's the Sheriff/Three's Company) - Suzanne is a guest on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Lauren Ash (Superstore/Super Fun Night) - Lauren appears on Access Daily, so check your local listings.
  • Kelly Ripa (Hope & Faith) - Kelly is a guest on People Now at 12pm.
  • Lark Voorhies (Saved by the Bell/In the House) - The actress who portrayed Lisa Turtle on the iconic teen sitcom Saved by the Bell opens up about her mental health challenges and her reaction to being left out of the reboot of the show on The Dr. Oz Show, so check your local listings.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (December/January/February)

Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One Martin - The Complete Series Step by Step - The Complete Sixth Season Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series

12/03 - The Simpsons - The Nineteenth Season
12/03 - The Simpsons - Seasons 1-20: Limited Collector's Set
12/06 - 9JKL - The Complete Series
12/10 - Family Guy - Season Seventeen
12/17 - Atlanta - Season 2 - Robbin' Season
12/17 - Fuller House - The Complete Fourth Season
12/17 - Hogan's Heroes - The Complete Series (2019 Release)
12/17 - The Other Two - Season 1
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume One
01/02 - My Three Sons - The Fifth Season - Volume Two
01/14 - Veep - The Final (Seventh) Season (Blu-ray)
01/14 - Veep - The Complete Series (DVD)
01/21 - Hangin' with Mr. Cooper - The Complete Third Season (WBShop.com)
01/21 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Fifth and Final Season
01/28 - Ballers - The Complete Series
01/28 - The Mindy Project - The Complete Series (DVD)
02/04 - Martin - The Complete Series
02/11 - Step by Step - The Complete Sixth Season (WBShop.com)
02/18 - Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt - The Complete Series (Blu-ray)
More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


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02/01 - SitcomsOnline Digest: Remembering Fred Silverman, the Man Who Shaped TV in the 70s; Pair of Soap Operas Renewed
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01/27 - New Punk'd Gets Host; Comedic Game Show Renewed Through 2023
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01/24 - Fri-Yay: Sitcom Line-Ups - A Thing of the Past?; Adult Swim Comedy Returns Feb. 23
01/23 - The Conners Celebrate Grand Opening of Lanford Lunch Box with Contest; Lifetime Celebrates 30 Years of Original Movies
01/22 - HBO Max Gets Animated with Royals Comedy; Netflix Announces Premiere Date for Sophia Lillis Comedy
01/21 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: Hulu - a Comedy with Steve Martin and Martin Short, the Renewal of Dollface
01/20 - TCA Winter 2020 Press Tour: More Cable; 26th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards® Winners
01/19 - Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows; This Week in Sitcoms (Week of January 20, 2020)
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