Radio ITVT: T Time Talks Netflix, NBCU Snow Pass, AR Glasses, and the Holodeck

We're pleased to present another episode of "T Time," a regular podcast featuring news and analysis of the latest developments in advanced TV and video. A joint project between ITVT and nScreenMedia, "T Time" is hosted by ITVT's Founder and Editor-in-Chief, Tracy Swedlow, and nScreenMedia's Founder and Chief Analyst, Colin Dixon.

In this episode, we discuss how Netflix is conflicted about competition and may be engaged in racial profiling. NBCU Sports delivers a $69.99 Snow Pass. New fitted AR glasses could be a breakout product. Two companies come together to build the Star Trek Holodeck.     

Chapter 1: Netflix Q3 2018 and competition (1:40)

Looking at the Q3 2018 results for Netflix, it’s hard to believe the company is encountering any serious competition in markets like the US, UK, and Scandinavia. The company added 1.1 million streamers in the US to reach 58.5 million and 5.9 million in international markets to reach 78.6 million. In total, the company gained 7 million streamers, up 5% quarter-over-quarter and a stunning 25% from the same quarter last year.
 
The company seems conflicted over the competitive environment. At one point, the company said it lost most of the time in the competition for screen hours. In the earnings call, Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, said he thought the competition for wallet-share was “far off.” Both statements are quite misleading.
 

Chapter 2: NBCU launches Snow Pass (8:33)

NBC Sports Gold is now offering the snow sports-oriented Snow Pass. A $69.99 membership will get a US subscriber access to seven winter sports through April 2019. The service will give people access to all International Ski Federation event in Austria.
 

Chapter 3: Netflix screen art controversy (12:43)

Netflix has been personalizing the screen artwork for a movie or TV show seen by subscribers for some time. The company has found that screen art is very influential in a viewer’s decision to watch or skip a movie. Netflix produces many different versions of the artwork and then algorithms pick an image most likely to persuade the viewer to watch the movie. For example, a user that likes Matt Damon movies may see screen art containing the actor’s image for Interstellar even though the actor had only a small part in the movie.
 
Some Netflix users have suggested the company may be using racial profiling to get them to watch movies. An African-American Netflix user pointed out she saw artwork for the film Like Father - which stars two white actors - containing two black actors that had small roles in the film. She says there were several other similar examples. 
 

Chapter 4: Customized AR glasses (19:30)

North, formerly known as Thalmic Labs, is releasing new AR glasses called Focals. The glasses will be custom fitted at a store in either Toronto or Brooklyn. They include a micro-laser in the right arm which bounces off a photopolymer material in the glasses lens and goes into the eye where it paints the image directly on the retina in a 15-degree viewing area of 300x300 pixels. The wearer uses a ring to make gestures and interact with the image. Focals connect to the user’s phone and North plans to provide a range of services for the glasses. The AR glasses cost $999 per pair.
 
 

Chapter 5: The road to the Star Trek Holodeck (28:04)

Light Field Labs, a maker of holographic displays, and Otoy, a graphics software company, are working together to create glasses-free immersive holographic environments. Light Field Labs is building small prototype holographic displays which it plans to assemble into much bigger 3D displays. Otoy software can be used to create realistic digital media. The two companies together believe they can create a complete creation-to-delivery environment.

CEO of Roddenberry Entertainment, Rod Roddenberry, and Ari Emmanuel, CEO of Endeavor are working together to create holographic content for the environment.