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Netflix Raises Prices on All Streaming Plans in US

HOUSTON FORWARD TIMES — Netflix subscribers in the United States are about to see a price hike across all subscription tiers

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By Chelsea Lenora White

Netflix subscribers in the United States are about to see a price hike across all subscription tiers.

The service’s most popular plan will increase from $11 to $13 per month for HD streaming. Netflix’s most expensive plan, which offers 4K content and up to four simultaneous streams on different devices, will increase from $14 to $16. And the service’s basic plan, which doesn’t offer HD, will raise from $8 to $9.

These price hikes will affect all new subscribers immediately, according to AP, with current subscribers set to experience the hike over the next three months.

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has said in the past that incremental price hikes will be needed as the company invests more money in original series and licensing popular programming.

“Price is all relative to value,” Hastings said in late 2017, the last time American subscribers saw an increase. “We’re continuing to increase the content offering and we’re seeing that reflected in viewing around the world.”

Original series and licensed content don’t come cheap. Netflix reportedly spent $100 million on retaining the streaming rights to Friends, one of the streaming service’s most popular series, according to various reports. The streaming service is also investing heavily in building its own exclusive library. It had approximately 700 original shows in 2018 alone and is expected to develop more this year.

As other streaming services like Hulu — and new platforms like Disney+, WarnerMedia, and NBCUniversal’s recently announced service — start to flood the landscape, Netflix will have to continue investing in original content and films to keep subscribers interested. Netflix currently has 58 million domestic subscribers, according to the company’s most recent investors meeting, with close to 80 million international subscribers.

Developing a slate of foreign TV series and films, like the Golden Globe winning Roma, directed by Alfonso Cuarón, is also a top priority for the company. Netflix has amassed approximately $8 billion in longterm debt as of September 2018 — a cost of investing so heavily and so quickly in original content. Jon Landgraf, FX Networks president, told a group of reporters in 2016 that Netflix’s rapid growth seemed unsustainable.

“I think it would be particularly bad if anyone in one company, and I don’t care what company that is, if they were able to seize a 40 or 50 or 60 percent market share in storytelling,” Landgraf said at the time. “They can’t double again and double again and double again because the entire earth’s surface would be covered in Netflix shows in 20 years.”

This article originally appeared in the Houston Forward Times.

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Business

City of Oakland’s Historic Sports Doubleheader: Black Group to Buy Coliseum Complex While Also Urging the A’s to Negotiate to Bring Community Benefits to City Through Howard Terminal

Hours of engaging discourse, bolstered by a throng of community supporters who packed the virtual council meeting with back-to-back appeals, got their wish in a 6-0-2 vote, on Monday, July 20. 

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Oakland Coliseum and Arena/Wikimedia Commons

The African American Sports & Entertainment Group (AASEG, www.aasegoakland.com), received a resounding vote from Oakland City Council members to pursue terms of ownership of the fabled, multiplex sporting venue, the Coliseum Complex.

Hours of engaging discourse, bolstered by a throng of community supporters who packed the virtual council meeting with back-to-back appeals, got their wish in a 6-0-2 vote, on Monday, July 20.  Oakland City Councilmembers approved the resolution brought forward by Vice Mayor Rebecca Kaplan to begin negotiations with the AASEG to acquire the City’s 50% interest of the Coliseum Complex.

The Oakland A’s bought Alameda County’s half of the Coliseum for $85 million in 2020.

This critical vote came just three days after the Alameda County Joint Powers Authority unanimously approved a resolution to begin negotiating with the AASEG to bring a WNBA team to Oakland.  With these successive actions, the AASEG can formalize negotiations with City staff toward a Purchase and Sell Agreement for the Coliseum Complex.

“This is very important,” said 96-year-old Gladys Green, chair of the Elmhurst Board in Oakland’s 7th District, where the Coliseum sits. “These Black men and women are coming back into this community at a time when we’ve lost so much. It is critical that you move forward with the AASEG proposal.”

Desmond Gumbs is the athletic director of Oakland’s century-old Lincoln University. “This is a strong group,” he said. “We are really excited about their community engagement. Let’s do this. It’s great for our community.”

Councilmembers complimented the AASEG’s impactful community outreach, citing receipt of scores of support letters, in addition to the group’s top priority to maintain a “community first” development approach.

“The historic footprint of this effort is unprecedented,” said AASEG founder Ray Bobbitt.  “It would be the largest award of public land to an African American group in the City’s 169-year history.”

The AASEG proposal includes commitments to revitalize the local community through affordable housing, job creation, public services, hospitality, life sciences, education, retail, public space, sports and entertainment activities.  Voices from the community expressed their hope for much needed infrastructure and quality of life improvements within the East Oakland community.

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Cal AG Rob Bonta Hits Google with Lawsuit Over “Play Store”

“Google has violated the trust of Android phone customers by limiting consumer choice and raking in outrageous commissions on app developers. Android customers are effectively stuck using the Google Play Store for apps, where they pay a premium,” said Bonta on July 7.

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Phone with Google apps courtesy Pathum Danthanarayana via Unsplash

California Attorney General Rob Bonta announced the California Department of Justice (DOJ) is joining a multistate lawsuit against Google.

In the claim, California joins 35 other states and the District of Columbia in accusing the Mountain View-based company of violating national and state laws (the federal Sherman Antitrust Act and California’s Cartwright Act) with its Google Play Store’s monopolization of the smartphone app market.

“Google has violated the trust of Android phone customers by limiting consumer choice and raking in outrageous commissions on app developers. Android customers are effectively stuck using the Google Play Store for apps, where they pay a premium,” said Bonta on July 7.

Calling Google’s dominance of the Android-app market “anti-competitive,” Bonta pointed out that customers are impacted the most by Google’s actions.

“A more competitive app marketplace could open innovation, leading to more choice, better payment processing, improved customer service, and enhanced data security,” he added.

The lawsuit, filed in a U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is the second multi-state lawsuit California has joined against the tech giant. Last year, Cal DOJ joined another U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit claiming Google stifles its competition by signing exclusionary agreements with smartphone manufacturers to dominate their operating systems, blocking out its search engine and other app competitors.

“In the absence of Google’s anticompetitive conduct, there would be two main channels for consumers to obtain apps on an open Android operating system: (i) direct downloading and installation of apps or app stores; and (ii) apps or app stores pre-installed on devices by device manufacturers and/or mobile network operators,” reads the 144-page complaint in which phrases with sensitive information have been redacted.

“But Google has closed off its purportedly ‘open’ Android operating system from competition in app distribution,” it continues. “To accomplish this, Google degraded direct distribution channels, and then cut deals to discourage and disincentivize any remaining potential competition.”

Responding to the states’ legal action, Google’s senior director of government affairs and policy Wilson White wrote in a blog post that the suit isn’t about fairness. Instead, in his view, it’s about a “handful” of developers who want access to the benefits of Google’s app store without paying for it.

“The complaint limits its definition of app marketplace to Android devices only. This completely ignores the competition we face from other platforms such as Apple’s incredibly successful app store, which accounts for the majority of mobile app store revenues, according to third party estimates,” White wrote.

White insists Google allows both developers and consumers to have options.

“Device makers and carriers can preload competing app stores alongside Google Play on their devices,” he said. “In fact, most android devices ship with two or more app stores preloaded. And popular Android devices such as the Amazon Fire tablet come preloaded with a competitive app store and no Google Play Store.”

Technically, Bonta says, consumers do have the option to install app stores they choose or to buy apps directly from developers. But he says Google discourages this “type of sideloading through a convoluted process that forces users to click through often-misleading security warnings and multiple permission screens.”

“This burdensome series of red flags leaves consumers with the impression that alternative app stores are inferior at best and high risk at worst. Over 90 % of all Android app distribution in the United States is done through Google’s Play Store,” said the Cal DOJ in a press release.

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Bay Area

Hope You Can Attend – Community Town Hall on the Effect of Billionaire Fisher’s Real Estate Project on the Port of Oakland

Virtual Town Hall – July 14th at 6 p.m.

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Register here

Howard Terminal Townhall Invite

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