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Netflix Still Piling Up Viewers — and Big Programming Bills


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Netflix is pulling in new viewers and award nominations in droves, but the online video service still faces a long-term problem: Its acclaimed programming line-up is costing far more money than what subscribers pay for it.

That hasn’t been a big issue so far, thanks to investors’ willingness to accept scant profits in exchange for robust subscriber growth.

Netflix delivered on that front again Monday, announcing that it added 5.2 million subscribers in the second quarter covering April to June. That’s the largest increase ever during the period, which has always been the company’s slowest time of year.

Wall Street rewarded Netflix by driving up its stock by more than 10 percent to $178.30 in extended trading, putting the shares on track to hit a new high in Tuesday’s regular trading.

International Costs

The Los Gatos, California, company now has 104 million subscribers worldwide. For the first time in its history, most of those subscribers (slightly more than 52 million) are outside the U.S.

That milestone could further complicate Netflix’s cost issues, since the company will need to keep creating more shows that appeal to the unique interests of viewers in countries such as Japan, India and Indonesia.

“It is going to be imperative for them to have more locally produced content,” says CFRA Research analyst Tuna Amobi. “They can’t afford to pursue a ‘one-size-fits-all’ strategy.”

As part of its efforts to boost its profits, Netflix is becoming more aggressive about dumping shows that aren’t drawing enough viewers to justify their costs. In the second quarter, Netflix jettisoned both the high-concept science fiction show “Sense 8” and the musical drama “The Get Down.”

In a Monday letter to shareholders, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings made it clear that the company plans to exert more discipline in the future. “They are becoming more like any other Hollywood studio and paying more attention to the economics of their shows,” Amobi said.

Programming Coups

The subscriber growth further validates Netflix’s decision to expand into original programming five years ago. Two of its longest running shows —  “House of Cards” and “Orange Is The New Black” — recently launched their latest seasons.

Those two series, along with new hits like “Master of None” and “13 Reasons Why,” helped Netflix easily surpass the average 1.8 million subscribers it has added in the second quarter over the past five years.

This fall, new seasons of two other hits, “Stranger Things” and “The Crown,” are due. Those two series accounted for about a third of the 91 Emmy nominations that 27 different Netflix programs received last week — more than any other TV network except its role model, HBO, which landed 111 nominations.

Cash Burn

But the success hasn’t come cheaply.

Netflix is locked into contracts requiring it to pay more than $13 billion for programming during the next three years, a burden that has forced the company to borrow to pay its bills.

After burning through $1.7 billion in cash last year, Netflix expects that figure to rise to as much as $2.5 billion this year. It’s continuing to invest in more original programming amid increasing competition from the likes of Amazon, Hulu and YouTube.

Netflix expects to be spending more money than it brings in for several more years. It posted a more detailed explanation about its negative cash flow to give investors a better grasp of its programming expenses.

The company is still profitable under corporate accounting rules, although its earnings remain puny by Wall Street standards. It earned $66 million on revenue of $2.8 billion in revenue during its latest quarter.

Funding international operations remains Netflix’s biggest financial drag, although the overseas losses are narrowing. The company now expects its international operation to produce a small operating profit for the full year.

Netflix also could make more money by raising its prices closer to the $15 per month that HBO charges for its streaming service, but the company has said no increases are planned in the near future. Netflix’s U.S. rates currently range from $8 to $12 per month.

News Courtesy: VOA NEWS

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Afghanistan to Block Terror, Extremist Groups’ Online Activities


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Picture Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Afghanistan says it will begin blocking all online activity and websites linked to terror groups or extremists later this week, under terms of a cybercrime bill the government signed into law last month.

The Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology said it is gathering a list of websites linked to terror groups or their supporters, based on information from the National Intelligence Directorate (NDS) and the Ministry of Information and Culture.

Najib Nangyal, a ministry spokesperson, said website-blocking will begin this Saturday, as authorized by the National Cyber Security Strategy of Afghanistan (NCSA) and the new Cyber Crimes Act.

Voice of concern

A dissenting voice has been raised by the nongovernmental organization Nai, Supporting Open Media in Afghanistan. The group opposes the new cybercrime law on the grounds that it limits freedom of expression and access to information.

Telecommunications ministry spokesperson Nangyal denied those charges in a statement to VOA’s Ashna radio.

The new criminal law that President Ashraf Ghani signed last Friday contains 27 articles related to prohibited cyberactivities. It is the first comprehensive attempt to catalog cybercrimes and violations in 15 years, a period during which online activity in the country expanded greatly.

Internet services for 6 million

Although parts of Afghanistan are still ravaged by war, the country of 32 million people now has internet services capable of serving 6 million people. A lack of cyber regulations, meanwhile, has allowed terrorists and extremist groups to continue working online, the government said.

Media rights group Nai, established in 2005 with the support of the Internews network, is currently supported by funds from USAID, the U.S. international development agency. Mojib Khalwatgar, head of Nai, said his agency is concerned about vague and undefined terms used in much of the law, and in particular on its potential effect upon journalists.

Nai’s statement of “general beliefs” about the new law says it appears to potentially criminalize any exchange of data or software from one computer to another, and that any normal activity by an organization’s information technology staff could be construed to be a criminal act.

Mohammad Ahmadi contributed to this report

Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Featured Image Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Strange Sea Creatures Near Alaska Baffle Scientists


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Photo Courtsesy: The Juneau Empire , AlasKa, USA

Strange sea creatures that resemble large pink thimbles are showing up on the coast of southeast Alaska for the first time after making their way north along the West Coast for the last few years.

Scientists say the creatures are pyrosomes, which are tropical, filter-feeding spineless creatures usually found along the equator. They appear to be one long pink tube, but in reality, they’re thousands of multicelled creatures mushed together, generally about 6 inches (15 centimeters) long.

Pyrosomes have been working their way north, Ric Brodeur, a researcher with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told the Associated Press on Monday.

Brodeur, who is based at the agency’s Northwest Fisheries Science Center in Newport, Oregon, said pyrosomes were first seen on the Oregon coast in 2014 and every year since. More recently, the animals have made their way up farther north on the Washington state coast, Canada’s British Columbia and Alaska.

Jim Murphy, a biologist with the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said pyrosomes spotted near Alaska this year marked the first documented presence of the animals that far north, and their appearance is cause for concern.

“It means that we are clearly seeing really big changes in the marine ecosystem,” he told The Juneau Empire.

Researchers have speculated that the bloom is tied to warmer ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean in recent years. But temperatures have nearly cooled back to normal this year, Murphy said, and these pyrosomes started showed up in the middle of winter.

Leon Shaul, a biologist with Fish and Game, has been tracking the appearance of pyrosomes in southeast Alaska. He said he’s “emailed the whole world” about the issue, but hasn’t heard much back.

Brodeur told the AP that it’s also unusual how close to shore the pyrosomes have come, although they are now being found farther offshore again.

He said the creatures have a low nutritional value, and that raises concerns on how they will affect the fish that eat them.

“They’re not the greatest food for the animals out there, compared to the things they normally have,” he said.

Pyrosomes aren’t harmful to humans, but they have puzzled those who’ve encountered them.

Angler Don Jeske was fishing for king salmon in February when he said he found himself surrounded by “millions” of the tube-shaped creatures and he’d never seen anything like it in his 50 years of trolling around Sitka, a fishing town about 90 miles southwest of Juneau.

“They were all over out there, they were everywhere. … I would say millions, not hundreds of thousands,” he said. “This is a weird organism, man.”

Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Disclaimer: All pictures (sometimes website links) which not owned by Shanthanubh’s Desk that appear on this site are the property of their respective owners, who may or may not be affiliated with, connected to, or sponsored by Shanthanubh’s Desk. However,most of the pictures are royalty free/Public Domain.We use photographs for representational purposes.It is only for to create awareness and educational purposes.

Indian Man on Death Row in Pakistan Seeks Clemency From Army Chief


Kulbhushan Jadhav. Express photo video grab.

Photo Courtesy: Indian Express

An Indian man on death row in Pakistan after a military court sentenced him on charges of espionage, sabotage and terrorism has appealed to the country’s army chief for clemency.

India had earlier appealed to the International Court of Justice, the highest legal body under the United Nations, in the case of Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav. India said Pakistan had sentenced an innocent Indian citizen without granting him diplomatic access, which is in violation of an international treaty.

The court ordered Pakistan last month to delay Jadhav’s execution until the final verdict.

Pakistan says Jadhav confessed to being an Indian spy working to disrupt the development of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a network of railways and roads that is part of the larger One Belt One Road Initiative launched by China.

In a 10-minute video released by the military, the second of its kind, Jadhav said his activities were designed to support separatist groups in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province to “raise the level of insurgency.”

A news release by the Pakistan military’s public relations wing said Jadhav had “expressed remorse” over lives lost and damage caused by his actions and asked for mercy on “compassionate grounds.”

According to authorities, Jadhav claimed to have had a hand in sectarian violence, targeting Shi’ite Muslims, that had plagued Pakistan for a while.

Center of conflict

Balochistan has long been the center of a conflict between separatist insurgents and Pakistan’s military. It is also along the route of China’s planned economic corridor, which involves an investment of upward of $50 billion. The success of the project depends upon securing the routes.

Tensions between India and neighboring Pakistan, both nuclear-armed countries, have been high since a heavily armed group attacked an Indian air force base in Pathankot early last year. India blamed Pakistan-based militants for the attack.

The two sides have also been exchanging intermittent fire along the Line of Control, the de facto border in the disputed Kashmir region.

Text Courtesy: VOA NEWS

Media Watch: Pedophile Arrested


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Screenshot of the website of Limerick Leader, Ireland

Web Link: http://www.limerickleader.ie/news/home/253844/man-had-images-and-videos-of-child-porn-at-limerick-city-apartment.html

Media Watch: Zim News


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Web Link: http://www.zimtelegraph.com/world-cup-song-group-banned-from-zimbabwe/

Media Watch:Shooting Spree


 

Web Link: http://www.dailyleader.com/2017/05/28/sheriffs-deputy-killed-in-line-of-duty-loved-making-children-smile/

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Screen Shot of the website of The Daily Leader, Brookhaven,Mississippi,USA

Media Watch: Red Alart


Web Link: http://www.mindanews.com/top-stories/2017/05/moro-groups-call-for-humanitarian-corridor-to-get-marawi-residents-out-of-harms-way/

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Screen Shot of the wensite of MindaNews, Davao, Phillippines

Media Watch: Growing repression against Journalists


Web Link: http://www.eluniversal.com/noticias/daily-news/least-115-reporters-assaulted-venezuelan-protests_652623

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Screen shot of the website of El Universal, Venezuela

Media Watch: Manchester Attack


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Web link of Manchester Evening News: http://www.manchestereveningnews.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-news/iconic-landmarks-lit-red-white-13082409

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