Notes From The Front On Netflix, Vine and Amazon

Bulletins from the online front:

I miss the Netflix red envelope a little bit, a flimsy little mail piece that always reminded me of the quarterly mailing of my college grades. My envelope was a book marker, a beverage coaster and just something I lost, and for all those good times, well, the writing is on the wall.

Fewer than 6 million subscribers get Netflix by mail, which is an absurd way to mark a failure, Now that’s only twice the population of Chicago, as opposed to 2011, when Netflix-by-mail had about 14 million subscribers -- or a little more than all the people who saw Game 1 of the World Series Tuesday night.

Gigaom is reporting today that the Oregonian in Portland notes that Portland’s KOIN-TV is reporting that Netflix is about to close its call center in Hillsboro, Oregon, giving pink slips to people who slip videos into red envelopes. I would be a damn fool not to report the same.



No doubt this end of the Netflix biz is slipping away. It merely contributed $89.4 million in profit in the third quarter this year, compared to $146 million in the same quarter three years ago, Gigaom says. But obviously, that business is slowly dwindling, and with it leaving just memories of the excitement as the films you picked out on Wednesday to see this weekend arrive in the mail in time for you to watch this weekend. It does seem like a million years ago since I’ve experienced that.   

Hollywood And Vine:  That’s the name for a new situation comedy being developed by Rainn Wilson, best known for his role as the officious/dweeb Dwight Schrute on “The Office.” Everybody develops sitcoms in Los Angeles, but this one, reported by Tubefilter, catches my attention because Wilson is using it as a showcase for five Vine stars who are trying to move from social media to mainstream television stardom.  (Because? They’re not unhappy enough already?)

In real life, these Viners “collectively boast 30 million followers and and 5 billion loops,” says Tubefillter, which is the actual reason I add the post here. I was imagining the vice president of synthetic comedy at one of the networks having underlings looking for stars with trending loops. And you know it’s happening.

'Alpha' Again: The second season of Amazon Prime Instant Video’s “Alpha House” is now available, as of today, and you can watch all 10 episodes all in a row the way video binge fans seem to prefer. 

The comedy stars John Goodman, Mark Consuelos, Clark Johnson and Matt Malloy as a bunch of misfit Republican senators all living together in a Washington townhouse. This season, like last, will be loaded up with well-known guest stars, including a reprise for Bill Murray, Wanda Sykes, Haley Joel Osment and others, and guest shots for Matt Lauer, Elizabeth Warren and Rachel Maddow and many more.

The series is modeled after real-life roomies--but Democrats--chronicled in The New York Times, and it’s one of the smartest sitcoms that no one gushes over. It’s produced by Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau, Elliot Web and NBC News and former Newsweek bigwig Jonathan Alter, and like HBO’s “Veep,” even though it is a comedy “Alpha House” rings true, or at least truthy.

Amazon does a clumsy job promoting its stuff, I’d say. ”Transparent,” another Amazon series starring Jeffrey Tambor, has gotten rave reviews and while ineffective marketing is always a kind of subjective call, it’s received little of the buzz Netflix gets for just about anything it touches. Ditto with “Alpha House,” but that may be because even this early in the history of big budget online video content production Amazon is Showtime to Netflix’s HBO, an analogy that should offend just about all of them.


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