Archive for the ‘Video’ Category

Target’s streaming service baits and switches?

10 Jan 2015

This evening I rented Atlas Shrugged Part III in HD ($5.99) from Target’s streaming service, “”. When I tried to watch it, the only option I got was SD. So… what’s the deal Target? And you can’t give the excuse of ‘oh your download speeds weren’t fast enough’, because the speed test I ran before starting the video shows 108Mbps. FAR more than is needed to stream HD on Netflix even.

Bait and switch.

Target’s streaming service baits and switches?Target bait and switch
High speed internet 
108 Mbsp

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who is John Galt?Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who is John Galt?

Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who is John Galt?


I submitted a trouble ticket to Target Ticket. Their answer? ‘Oh, HD isn’t available when watching ON YOUR COMPUTER.”  WHAT?! The FIRST place I would expect HD video playback to work – IS MY COMPUTER! YouTube has supported HD since late 2008! Read my very simple ticket and their laughable reply below.

The ticket I submitted:
I rented Atlas Shrugged Part III in HD, but only SD is available when I try to watch it.

Bait and switch.

Target’s response:

(Target Ticket)
Jan 13 01:56 PM

hello Dave,

Thanks for contacting Target Ticket Guest Support. I’m sorry to hear that you’re only getting the option to play "Atlas Shrugged Part 3 Who Is John Galt" in SD. I’d like you to know that even though this title was purchased in HD, it may playback in SD based on the device you’re using. At this time, HD playback isn’t available on PC, iOS or Android devices. I’m sorry for any trouble this may cause. Please keep in mind; when playing a HD title on a PC, iOS or Android device, it will automatically be converted to SD. However, you can still enjoy your title in HD quality on devices like Roku, Xbox 360, Smart TVs and BluRay players.

We’re always working to make Target Ticket your preferred destination to view your favorite movies and TV shows.

Thanks from all of us at Target Ticket,

Target Ticket Guest Support

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Posted in Business, Customer Service, Technology, Video


Voting on ads…

23 Aug 2014

YouTube - DaveTavres.comFor several years I’ve felt like there’s something missing from ads – specifically video ads. More specifically, web-based video ads. Voting.

We all remember those especially good ads. The kid reading the ingredients on a container of Breyers ice cream; Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” campaign; Connect Four’s “Pretty sneaky sis!”. Of course, those ads were all pre-internet, so the way they rated commercials was by sales and by advertising teams crunching sales numbers. But so many ads are just awful and there’s no way to let the companies know that the ad is bad – even if you still end up using their product.

Facebook has the “Like” button. So does YouTube for videos. Why isn’t there a “Like” button for the ADS that I watch? Seems like a simple way to get true feedback from viewers – or fans. I want to tell Audi that I LOVED their “Spock vs. Spock” commercial so they’ll make more like them.

So – what’s up Google? Why isn’t this an option? It’s completely opt-in and just gives better feedback to your customers. Make it happen.

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Posted in Business, Video, Websites


Netflix bait-and-switch?

04 Jan 2014

I’m a HUGE fan of Netflix. I started with them around 1998, when they only offered DVDs. They were the first major player in what became the streaming video market.

Today, I looked up a movie I’ve wanted to see – “Due Date”. When I did the search on Google, the page on the left is what came up… when I hovered over the movie poster, the “Play” icon was displayed, with the text “Start Your Free Trial to Watch”. Once I signed in, I went to play the video… only to see the box in the bottom right corner – “Add DVDs”, meaning that this video is not available for streaming.

Netflix bait-and-switch? Streaming - DaveTavres.comNetflix bait-and-switch? DVDs -

I understand the business justifications for offering products in a different form to entice potential customers, but it’s disappointing to see such an obvious bait-and-switch from a company I like…

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Posted in Business, Technology, Video, Websites


Netflix to lose business to Redbox

12 Jul 2011

Redbox.comNetflix just announced that they’re raising prices again. It seems that they are trying to phase out DVDs for streaming. Of course, discs ARE dead, but they aren’t quite gone yet. And that includes Blu-ray. (That’s part of why the studios are pushing Blu-ray sales so hard right now, because they know it’s got a short sales-life.)

Even with that in mind, I’ll say that Redbox has a good shot coming up here very soon…

Netflix.comI was a big fan of Redbox when they first started, and rented from them more often than I use to rent from Blockbuster or Hollywood video. I even got lots of other people hooked on those kiosks. Then by 2007/2008 streaming started to take off. That was the beginning of the end for discs right there. However, there’s still a market for the next couple years – more than enough for Redbox to make a few bucks and get their streaming service up and running to compete with Netflix. Until today, I thought Netflix had effectively killed Redbox, but with the price going to $16 a month for such a “frivolous” service, it looks like I’ll be cancelling the “disc” portion of Netflix and just doing the ‘steaming only’ version. Then, for the new releases and those ‘bonus features’ discs, I’ll be going back to Redbox. (I hope they don’t hold a grudge for me dumping them the way I did!)

VidTaggr.comIn the coming years, as the television and movie studios start (or perfect) their own streaming services, it’ll be interesting to see what price points and features they end up developing. And with a little luck VidTaggr ( will be able to fill-in for lack of bonus features and added content that streaming-only content just doesn’t have.


Prediction (even if it is obvious)

It seems obvious that Netflix has some high overhead with the DVD distribution centers, considering machinery and automation, payroll, mailing costs and physical disks. They MUST know that a large percentage of people will drop the DVD portion of their Netflix plan. The movie studios have been withholding their steaming licenses from Netflix because they likely get more money from the disks due to overall overhead costs and because the disks are primarily the new releases that a lot of people want to see. (That’s why Redbox will get a big boost in the coming months.) The studios will begin getting less income from those Netflix DVD contracts and ask ‘Why?’ Then Netflix says ‘People want new movies to be streaming, but you won’t license them to us.’ The studios want that cash. So they’ll start changing those contracts to include streaming of new video.

During this time, Redbox will start doing great. They’ll get their streaming plan up and running, but they won’t be able to compete with Netflix and, as I and many other people have said, ‘disks are dead’ – so Redbox will likely die out in mass around 2015. That may seem sad, but by then most new content will be streamed. (Buy Redbox/Coinstar stock now, sell it within a few years.)

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Posted in Customer Service, Marketing, Technology, Video, Websites


Streaming media and home entertainment…

25 Jul 2010

I’ve recently helped a few friends get setup with "media centers" as their home entertainment systems. They’ve all been centered around using a small form-factor computer to ‘power’ things, and central to that is Microsoft’s Windows 7 and Windows Media Center.

Windows Media CenterI was lucky enough to be a software tester at Microsoft around 2001 testing the first version of Window Media Center Edition (MCE) and it was exciting back then. It’s now been 10 years – and it still hasn’t caught on. But, I’m confident that’s about to change.

TiVoTiVo can be credited with getting the ‘digital revolution’ started by recording the standard TV signals onto a hard drive, then letting people play it back whenever, and with the ability to skip commercials. It took a few years for consumers to "get the idea", but now almost everyone has a DVR (digital video recorder). I often explained the TiVo as being on par with the invention of the telephone. At first, no one really needed it, but it quickly became something that no one could live without. And now look where we are with phones…

After TiVo and DVRs became common-place, the price came down and availability went up for large flat-panel TVs. At first, only a few people had them, but here again, almost everyone has a flat-panel TV now. And once those HD televisions were everywhere, the TV stations started broadcasting in HD. Then by 2006 Sony had started shipping their Blu-ray format DVDs and players, with higher-definition pictures to go with those big TVs.

Netflix Hulu

So, what’s next? Well, over the past couple of years, Hulu and Netflix and even YouTube have seen incredible growth in the number of users who stream video. Devices like the XBox, Roku and next-gen TiVo allow people to play movies instantly through their internet connections. It’s obvious that media streaming is the next big thing. Right now, not everyone is ready for it, but within a year or two, it will be just like DVRs – people won’t be able to live without instant, on-demand, streaming media to their home entertainment systems.

This is where Microsoft has yet another chance to do something great – or flop (as has been their way lately.) Windows Media Center is now built-in to Windows 7. And it’s got some great features. XBoxAside from recording TV to the hard drive, there are lots of applications available and great integration with XBox and other devices to become "media extenders", which will allow the whole house to use the content on the machine. That, combined with Netflix, web-browsing, Google TVmusic and photo playback, MCE could be the killer app as the next big thing comes around. The question is – can Microsoft deliver? Or will they fall into old habits and just sit back and expect people to fit into Microsoft’s mold? I’m sure Google TV is hoping that’s what they do…

Now, I do love what Google has been doing in recent years, but I love what Microsoft use to be as well. So for now, I have to root for Microsoft and hope that they do the right thing and do some SERIOUS work on Windows Media Center. They’ve got MAYBE a year to get it updated, start having contests or paying people to build apps for it (which also means building a GOOD app store for it),  and then get it into people’s living rooms. If they don’t do it now, they’ll never get the chance again – and it will be yet another great product that they’ve developed, then let die on the vine.

Now, with that out of the way, what’s the next, NEXT big thing after streaming media? I say it’s all about information. Contextual information that goes along with people’s favorite media is the thing to watch. has that platform working now, but it’s a tiny bit ahead of it’s time (hopefully just a TINY bit!) Once everyone is streaming all of their movies, TV shows and other media, they’re going to want something more. Just like how we weren’t satisfied with only being able to make phone calls from the beach, now we want to call from the beach, but we want GPS built-in and 5mp cameras and internet access – ON OUR PHONE! So as streaming becomes ‘the next big thing’, VidTaggr will be right behind that to be the next, NEXT big thing.

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Posted in History, Microsoft, Phones, Software, Technology, Video