National News

Homeland Security Budget Caught Up In Immigration Politics

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-14 01:03

The House is set to pass a $40 billion spending bill that pays for the Department of Homeland Security to the end of the budget year — but also invalidates President Obama's executive actions on deportations.

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Tough Attorney General Pick Loretta Lynch Vies For Senate Confirmation

NPR News - Wed, 2015-01-14 01:03

Lynch grew up in a state where her parents fought for the vote. She could be the first black woman, and mom, to lead the Justice Department.

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Indiana's Veterans Service Officers Help Vets Get More Benefits

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 23:18

Veterans Service Officers often help veterans successfully navigate the complicated benefits process. But not all vets in Indiana know about VSOs or have access to them.

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North Carolina Rethinks The Common Core

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 23:17

Some states have been quick to drop the new national academic standards — but North Carolina is taking its time before deciding the Common Core's future in 2015.

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Ads Say 'No More' To Domestic Violence, But Will Audience Listen?

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 23:16

If you watched any football over the weekend, you likely saw an ad from the "No More" campaign. The idea is to raise awareness about domestic violence — and to bolster the NFL's image.

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Health Insurance Startup Collapses In Iowa

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 23:16

Obamacare provided billions in seed money to help establish insurance companies called co-ops. One of the biggest has now gone under, and its state overseer is telling clients to switch carriers.

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In Brazil, A Once-High-Flying Economy Takes A Tumble

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 23:14

A few years ago amid a global recession, Brazil was the darling of the financial markets. But last year, the country barely avoided recession. Prices are soaring, and investors are looking elsewhere.

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For S.C.'s Poet Laureate, An Inauguration Poem Without An Inaugural Audience

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 23:13

State officials say they cut Marjory Wentworth's two-minute poem for time, but many residents say it was the mention of the state's history with slavery that got it tossed.

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NASCAR's Kurt Busch Testifies That Ex-Girlfriend Is An Assassin

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 17:50

Race car driver Kurt Busch and others told a Dover, Del., court this week that his former girlfriend, Patricia Driscoll, is an assassin. Driscoll did not deny the claims.

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Rep. André Carson To Become First Muslim On House Committee On Intelligence

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 15:29

In a 2014 interview, Carson said it's impossible to combat the threat of global terror without help from Muslims.

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College Football Championship Sets A New Cable Ratings Record

NPR News - Tue, 2015-01-13 15:13

The championship game between Oregon and Ohio State was a hit with viewers, turning in the highest ratings in the history of both ESPN and cable TV. The broadcast averaged 33.4 million viewers.

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The economics of Woody Allen and Amazon

Marketplace - American Public Media - Tue, 2015-01-13 14:50

The Tuesday announcement was a showstopper: Woody Allen will produce his first television series. His distribution partner: Amazon Studios.

It came on the heels of a big weekend for Amazon, which won its first two Golden Globe awards for the series "Transparent."

Here's how the 79-year-old Allen characterized the deal in a written statement: "I have no ideas, and I'm not sure where to begin."

Nevertheless, in its latest move to challenge the streaming dominance of Netflix, Amazon has ordered a full season of whatever show Allen comes up with.

This rivalry could be good for Hollywood.

"The dynamics have changed rapidly in the last several years," says Steve Ennen, president of entertainment research firm Centris. "And that means the consumer has a greater ability to find ... quality content of their choosing through digital distribution. And it's starting to show in the numbers."

Here are a couple of those numbers:

11

That's how many new or returning original series Netflix will release this year.

$100 million

That's how much Amazon spent on original content in just one quarter of 2014.

"That's part of the mission of these types of companies. Investment in good original content has a lot of value for them," Ennen says.

Andrew Wallenstein, co-editor-in-chief at Variety, says the investment has been paying off.

"It was just three or four years ago where the notion of getting the kind of quality entertainment you get from broadcast or cable on the Internet was really almost laughable," Wallenstein says.

Still, the vast majority of content being watched on streaming services remains shows from traditional TV, even as those traditional channels see their audiences abandon them for streaming services. Wallenstein says those dynamics could mean networks may reconsider their willingness to sell older content to Netflix.

"They're making money from Netflix, good money, by licensing their shows. But if it hurts their own network ratings, you may see a dramatic pull-back at some point," Wallenstein says.

That's further incentive for streaming sites to make their own content. Netflix already has two critically praised shows: "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black." But it made less of an impact with the $90 million "Marco Polo" that debuted at the end of 2014 with much fanfare but few positive reviews.

Meanwhile, Amazon has been getting critics' attention with "Transparent."

"Amazon is starting to come up with content that rivals Netflix," says Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter, who keeps close watch on the streaming world.  Competition for high-quality shows could set off a bidding war in Hollywood, he says. With more stars in the mix, writers, directors and actors could be seeing bigger paydays.

"Amazon very much wants to cut into the Netflix market share. And Amazon has a much bigger checkbook," Pachter says.

That ultimately could mean that everyone in the entertainment game could be paying more for content, Pachter says.

Stay tuned. Or stay streaming, that is.

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