TIME Media

Nielsen Ratings Could Become a Major Headache for Netflix

Danielle Brooks, Uzo Aduba, Samira Wiley, Vicky Jeudy, Adrienne C. Moore
(L-R) Danielle Brooks, Vicky Jeudy, Uzo Aduba, Adrienne C. Moore, and Samira Wiley in a scene from Netflix's Orange is the New Black Season 2. Jessica Miglio—Netflix

Streaming service may lose leverage if viewership data is widely known

House of Cards and Orange Is the New Black are wildly popular hits that prove Netflix can make shows that compete with the best of cable programming…right? That’s been the narrative around the streaming service over the last year, but hard proof has been harder to come by. Netflix has never provided concrete data validating that its shows are watched by large numbers of viewers.

Soon Nielsen, the standard-bearer for TV ratings, may change that. The TV ratings company revealed to the Wall Street Journal that it’s planning to begin tracking viewership of online video services like Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant Video in December by analyzing the audio of shows that are being streamed. The new ratings will come with a lot of caveats—they won’t track mobile devices and won’t take into account Netflix’s large global reach—but they will provide a sense for the first time which Netflix shows are the most popular. And if the rest of the media world latches onto these new ratings as a standard, Netflix won’t be able to ignore them.

Ratings are important on traditional television because they help networks attract advertising. Netflix doesn’t sell ads and has argued that it therefore shouldn’t have to disclose its ratings. “It creates a benchmark that is irrelevant to the business but sexy and exciting to write about and puts a lot of performance pressure on shows that otherwise will be great shows over time,” chief content officer Ted Sarandos said at a conference in 2012. A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

But TV ratings are about a lot more than selling ads. Netflix viewership data would give traditional TV networks a better sense of how popular their shows are on the platform and, perhaps more importantly, how essential they are to the overall Netflix experience. This could affect negotiations for licensing programming, especially as more content companies such as CBS and Comcast launch their own streaming services. Networks already regularly leverage the popularity of their programming to extract higher fees from cable operators in very public spats, so they’d likely have no problem pulling Netflix into a similar scrum.

Ratings also help attract talent in the traditional TV world. HBO has risen to the top of the premium cable heap by continually serving up shows that are both critically acclaimed and extremely popular. If Netflix’s original shows are revealed to be watched less than those on TV, it might be harder to attract a David Fincher or a Kevin Spacey to the streaming service (even Fincher and Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan don’t know how popular their Netflix shows are).

Finally, regular ratings could introduce further volatility to Netflix’s already bumpy stock. The company’s share price tumbled more than 25% after it missed its own subscriber growth forecast in October. Investors might be further scared scared off if there were signs that the company’s growing stable of expensive original shows were not as popular as they believed.

Of course, there are ways Nielsen ratings could work in Netflix’s favor. If the company’s shows really are huge hits, that just lends more credence to its narrative as a television disruptor and could help convince more Hollywood stars to work with the streaming service. It’s also possible that Nielsen’s methodology, which is rather vague at the moment, won’t be considered accurate enough to be taken seriously. The company just recently acknowledged that it was reporting inaccurate ratings for the broadcast networks for seven months this year. And Viacom’s CEO has said he wants to adopt different ratings standards because he thinks Nielsen has been too slow to adapt to shifting consumer habits.

Either way, Netflix will probably have to contend with questions about the Nielsen figures from media executives, analysts, and reporters for a quite a while. It’s an unknown variable in their growth story that they’d likely rather not deal with. As the calculating Frank Underwood once said, “There’s a value in having secrets.”

TIME Social Media

You Asked: Can I Delete All My Old, Embarrassing Tweets?

Social Media Site Twitter Debuts On The New York Stock Exchange
In this photo illustration, The Twitter logo is displayed on a mobile device as the company announced it's initial public offering and debut on the New York Stock Exchange on November 7, 2013 in London, England. Bethany Clarke—Getty Images

Twitter just made it easier than ever for anyone to find all your tweets

Twitter just made its search tool more powerful than ever. The social network has now made it easy to search any of the 500 billion public tweets that have been sent in Twitter’s eight-year history. Yes, that includes your tweets—even the drunk ones.

If you’re nervous about what an Internet sleuth might uncover if they searched for all your references to “weed” or a comprehensive listing of your embarrassing unanswered pleas directly to a celebrity, you might want to review your old tweets and delete the bad apples. And remember, if you ever become famous, someone will inevitably dig up all those racist tweets you sent in 2010.

Here’s how to head off your future PR nightmare at the pass:

Option 1: Request Your Twitter Archive

Before today, the best way to take stock of your Twitter past was to request your personal archive from the social network. Twitter will email you a zip file that includes all your tweets in an easily searchable database that mimics the Twitter.com interface. Just type in any questionable words you might have used in your younger days (“drunk,” “high,” “hella” ) and delete anything you wouldn’t want your Mom to read or embed on a public web page for the whole Internet to see.

To get the archive, go to your Settings and click “Request your archive.”

Option 2: Use Advanced Search

If you don’t want to wait around for Twitter to send you your archive, you can use the Advanced Search option (here) to quickly parse through your tweets. In the “From These Accounts” field, enter your username, and in the “Words” fields, enter whatever terms you’re trying to find that you previously tweeted.

Retweet the ones where you accurately predicted the future. Delete the incriminating ones.

Option 3: Scorch the Earth

You were a different person when you joined Twitter. If you were below the age of 20, it’s possible that you said so many cruel, vapid and ignorant things that there is simply no salvaging your younger digital self. You can wipe this person from Twitter’s record with a few clicks. Tweet Delete lets you automatically delete tweets more than a year old on an ongoing basis. Tweet Eraser allows you to delete everything you wrote before any given date. For more dire situations, you can download Tweeticide and erase your entire Twitter history.

Not sure whether you should delete or tweet? Consider this: Every public tweet is being archived for future generations to make judgments about our culture in the Library of Congress. Don’t make us look bad.

TIME Companies

You Can Now Search Every Tweet Ever

The Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device.
The Twitter logo and hashtag '#Ring!' is displayed on a mobile device. Bethany Clarke—Getty Images

Archive of 500 billion tweets are now searchable

Time to start deleting your embarrassing old tweets—Twitter just made it easy to search every public tweet ever sent.

The social network announced Tuesday that it has completed indexing of every public tweet since 2006, which amounts to about half a trillion messages. A new, more powerful search function will let users search for specific words used by specific users, hashtags used between a set of given dates and other variables. In the past, these types of searches only yielded a portion of the tweets that fit the criteria.

“Our search engine excelled at surfacing breaking news and events in real time, and our search index infrastructure reflected this strong emphasis on recency,” Twitter wrote in a blog post that explains the indexing process for tweets in extreme detail. “But our long-standing goal has been to let people search through every Tweet ever published.”

The more robust archive will eventually affect the basic searches that Twitter users conduct from the site’s homepage. While basic searches currently surface tweets from the last several hours or days as “Top” tweets, the company will soon begin showing older tweets that may also be relevant. Getting people conducting Twitter searches more regularly could boost the company’s revenue, as Twitter already sells ads against keyword searches.

TIME Security

WhatsApp Is Making Your Messages Way More Secure

New feature makes it harder for law enforcement to access contents

The latest update to the WhatsApp messaging service announced Tuesday includes end-to-end encryption by default, which means the content of a message is only decrypted and readable when it reaches its recipient. Encrypted texts via the TextSecure protocol will now be nearly impossible for law enforcement officials or WhatsApp to access.

The new feature was created using open-source code created by the development community at Open Whisper Systems. For now the feature is only available on Android devices, but in a blog post Open Whisper Systems says it plans to expand to other mobile platforms. The encryption only applies to basic texts right now, and group messages and photo messages don’t get the extra security boost.

The new encryption protocol backs up WhatsApp’s longstanding mantra of valuing people’s security over access to users’ data. CEO Jan Koum famously wrote a missive against using data mining to serve ads on social networks years before selling the company to Facebook for about $22 billion.

TIME Aviation

Plane That Crashed Into Chicago Home Missed Couple by 8 Inches

Twin-engine small cargo plane had just taken off from Midway Airport

A small cargo plane that crashed into a Chicago home Tuesday morning missed hitting an elderly couple residing in the house by eight inches, according to the city’s fire chief.

The twin-engine plane had just taken off from Midway Airport when it began experiencing engine problems, the Chicago Tribune reports. The pilot, who was the only person on board, was attempting to return to the airport but crashed into the home. He was dead at the scene.

The plane collided with the right side of the house, but the couple, an 84-year-old man and an 82-year-old woman, were on the left side of the residence asleep in their bedroom. Neighbors said the couple was “bewildered,” but did not sustain any injuries.

“They were in a bedroom next to the living room and the living room is gone,” Chicago Fire Chief Michael Fox said. “Eight inches. They were very lucky.”

[Chicago Tribune]

TIME Gadgets

Intel Thinks ‘Stylish’ Women Will Love This $495 Bracelet

It'll be available at Opening Ceremony and Barney's

Intel has unveiled a new smartwatch aimed at fashion-conscious women. The My Intelligent Communication Accessory (MICA), developed in conjunction with fashion company Opening Ceremony, sports 18-karat gold, snakeskin bands and pearls from China, along with a curved 1.6-inch OLED screen.

Unlike products such as the Apple Watch, MICA doesn’t need to sync with a phone to function fully. The device comes with two years of wireless service to AT&T’s mobile data network and its own phone number—that means users can give their MICA number to select contacts so their wrists aren’t vibrating all day.

Users can respond to texts and emails directly from the screen, as well as see Google and Facebook events. The watch also has access to restaurant reviews and appointment reminders thanks to partnerships with Yelp and TomTom. Intel claims it can get two days worth of battery life, a sticking point with other smartwatches.

The MICA will go on sale for $495 exclusively at Opening Ceremony and Barneys before the holiday season.

TIME Innovation

New York Is Transforming Its Old Payphones into Wi-Fi Hotspots

NYC Plans To Replace Pay Phones With Wifi Hotspots
A man stands in a public phone booth on a Manhattan street on May 2, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

10,000 kiosks will provide Internet access

The humble payphone is getting a 21st century upgrade. New York City will convert its thousands of rarely used payphones into Wi-Fi hotspots that provide free Internet access to city residents, by 2015.

The 10,000 new kiosks will each have a connectivity range of about 150 feet and and provide Internet speeds about 20 times as fast as the typical home connection, according to city officials. Up to 250 devices will be able to connect to each Wi-Fi network at a given time. The hotspots will also feature free domestic calls for cell phone users, mobile charging stations and city directions.

The venture is being developed by a group of companies including Qualcomm and Titan. It will cost more than $200 million and be funded by advertising displays on the kiosks.

[New York Times]

TIME apps

Uber Connects With Spotify to Let You Listen to Your Music During Rides

The Hamptons Lure Uber Top Drivers Amid NYC Slow Summer Weekends
Th Uber Technologies Inc. car service app is demonstrated for a photograph on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Aug. 6, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

Uber riders will get access to their Spotify playlists during their rides

You’ll soon be able to banish the radio in your next Uber ride. The ridesharing service is partnering with Spotify to allow riders to play their own music playlists during their trips, the companies announced Monday. Uber and Spotify users will have access to their Spotify accounts from within the Uber app, giving them complete control to blare their own tunes out of their Uber car’s speakers.

“It’s the first time we’ve personalized the experience inside the car,” Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said in a conference call.

The new feature will roll out on Friday in 10 cities, including New York, Los Angeles and London. Kalanick said the feature would be optional for drivers to implement, but he expects many to do so in an effort to please customers. He said he doesn’t expect drivers to get too frustrated being subject to the musical whims of their riders. “People get in the car all the time and ask, ‘Hey can you turn to this [radio] station,” he said. “I haven’t seen drivers have too much of a problem with that.”

For Spotify, the new partnership offers a chance to gain more traction as a competitor to the radio dial. Cars are one of the most popular places for listening to music, but it’s an experience still dominated by FM and AM radio. “The world is moving to having cars on demand wherever you are, and Spotify is having your music on demand wherever you are,” Spotify CEO Daniel Ek said.

The feature will only be available to Spotify Premium users, who pay $9.99 per month for the music service. Uber will provide a week of free Spotify Premium service to users when they take their first “music ride” using the feature. Eventually the companies to plan to roll their offering out globally. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

To promote the new partnership, Uber and Spotify are planning a series of live performances and surprise ride-alongs by music stars such as Andrew W.K. and Diplo.

TIME Companies

Amazon Finally Added a Long-Needed Feature to the Kindle

BRAZIL-AMAZON-KINDLE
View of an Amazon's Kindle reader. AFP—AFP/Getty Images

Book-lovers can now share multiple accounts on a single device

Amazon is now letting Kindle owners access multiple accounts on a single device.

On Friday, Amazon rolled out a software update that includes “Family Library,” a feature that will allow two adults and up to four children to share content on one Kindle. The adults can decide whether they want to share all or just a portion of their books with other users tied to a device, and each adult can separately make annotations and bookmarks in the same e-book.

The software update also includes Word Wise, a dictionary tool that automatically places definitions above difficult words within a book to help children and English language learners become better readers. Kindle owners will also have access to Kindle FreeTime Unlimited, an all-you-can-read subscription program aimed at kids that starts at $2.99 per month. Improved search capabilities and tighter integration with the online book club website Goodreads are also included.

The new update is available for the new $79 Kindle, the Kindle Voyage and the most recent Kindle Paperwhite. Users can wait for their Kindles to update automatically in the next few weeks or download the new software directly here.

TIME Companies

Amazon Is Hiring a Pilot to Test its Delivery Drones

Strike- Amazon Leipzig
A drone with an Amazon package floats in front of the Amazon logistics center in Leipzig, Germany on Oct 28, 2014. Peter Endig—dpa/Corbis

Company is also seeking a flight safety manager

It seems Amazon is getting serious about delivering packages to its customers via drone.

The e-tailer has posted a job listing for a flight operations engineer on its Amazon Prime Air drone delivery team. The new job, based at Amazon’s Seattle headquarters, will involve working with regulatory authorities, planning out test flights and executing the flights themselves. Several years of flight test experience are required for the job.

The company is also seeking a flight safety manager to work on the same program.

Amazon first announced its intentions to begin a drone delivery program via a 60 Minutes episode about a year ago. The plan has been met with much skepticism because the commercial use of drones is heavily regulated by the Federal Aviation Administration. However, the agency recently permitted the use of drones on certain movie sets, which could pave the way for wider use of the vehicles at businesses such as Amazon.

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