TIME Gadgets

You Can Now Watch South Park on Your Chromecast

South Park
Characters from the cartoon TV show "South Park", including Elton John (rear) with (from L to R) Kenny, Stan, Kyle and Cartman are featured in a 1998 episode. Getty Images—Getty Images

Also Epix, Encore and Seasame Street Go

Google’s streaming stick Chromecast is getting some popular new content for the Thanksgiving holiday. The device will now support apps for Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, Sesame Street Go and TuneIn. Chromecast will also add more movies with the addition of Epix and Encore and more international content with the addition of the Indian television service YuppTV.

Chromecast seems to have been the most successful of Google’s many attempts to invade the living room. The device’s simple design and low price have been imitated by competitors like Roku and Amazon, which have either launched new streaming sticks or redesigned older models since the Chromecast’s release.

TIME Media

Here’s What’s New on Netflix This December

Netflix Illustrations Ahead Of Earnings
The Netflix Inc. application is displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone arranged for a photograph in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Wolf of Wall Street will soon be up for streaming

As you’re enjoying your upcoming holidays, there’s a good chance some Netflix streaming could be in your vacation plans. Not to worry: the folks at Decider have published a handy list of the movies and TV shows that are on slate to debut on Netflix in December.

The biggest get is probably the Oscar-nominated The Wolf of Wall Street, which stars Leonardo DiCaprio as the unscrupulous banker Jordan Belfort. Anchorman 2 is also arriving with a special director’s cut. And we still have a soft spot for Heath Ledger’s A Knight’s Tale, which you’ll be able to stream starting Dec. 1.

Here’s the entire list, via Decider:

Available December 1st:

A Knight’s Tale (2001)
Almost Famous (2000)
American Beauty (1999)
Bewitched (2005)
Camp Takota (2014)
Crossroads (2002)
Jewtopia (2012)
Knights of Badassdom (2014)
Madison (2005)
Out of the Clear Blue Sky (2012)
Out of Time (2003)
The Out-of-Towners (1999)
Troop Beverly Hills (1989)
Turbo FAST: New Episodes (2014)

Available December 3rd-6th:

American Horror Story: Coven (2013)
Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues: Super Sized Version (2013)
Ava & Lala (2014)
Bill Burr: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way (2014)
Oculus (2014)
Sharknado 2: The Second One (2014)
Son of God (2014)

Available December 8th-11th:

Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown: Season Three (2013)
A Haunted House 2 (2014)
Drive Hard (2014)
I Am Ali (2014)
The Village (2004)
The Wolf of Wall Street (2013)

Available December 12th-15th:

Broadchurch: Season One (2013)
Don’t Blink (2014)
Jake Squared (2014)
Marco Polo (2014)
Nick Offerman: American Ham (2014)

Available December 18th-23rd:

All Hail King Julien (2014)
Dark Skies (2013)
The Honourable Woman: Season One (2013)
Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (2014)
Ragnarok (2014)
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion (1997)
The Trip to Italy (2014)

Available December 24th-30th:

Behaving Badly (2014)
Child of God (2014)
Comedy Bang! Bang!: Season Three (2013)
Good People (2014)
I, Frankenstein (2014)
Jessie: Season Three (2013)
Labor Day (2013)
Last Weekend (2014)
Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return (2014)
Maron: Season 2 (2013)

TIME Media

Spotify Still Doesn’t Make Any Money

SWEDEN-MUSIC-COMPANY-SPOTIFY
This photo illustration shows the Swedish music streaming service Spotify on March 7, 2013 in Stockholm, Sweden. Jonathan Nackstrand—AFP/Getty Images

Music streaming service lost $80 million in 2013

Music streaming service Spotify likes to crow about how it hands 70% of the revenue it generates right back to artists in the form of royalty payments. Such a massive expense has led the company to be wildly unprofitable in recent years — but Spotify may be slowly crawling its way out of the red.

A new regulatory filing released in Luxembourg shows Spotify had revenues of 747 million euros (around $1 billion) in 2013, up 74% from 2012, according to The New York Times. The startup posted a loss of $80 million, but that was smaller than its $115 million loss in 2012.

Spotify has long claimed that as it gains more users, it will be able to both pay artists more handsomely and begin earning some profits itself. The company’s financial trends indicate that the plan may actually work, assuming they can keep adding new users at a steady clip.

But Spotify’s biggest threat is growing dissatisfaction in the music industry with the service’s free tier, which allows users to listen to Spotify’s entire song library while hearing a few ads in between tunes. It was this free offering that compelled Taylor Swift to remove her catalogue from the streaming service, while a Sony Music executive recently expressed concern that the free version of Spotify might deter people from signing up for paid subscriptions. The new financial figures show why Swift and others are wary of the ad-supported model: Spotify made just $90 million in revenue from its ad business in 2013, less than 10% of its overall revenue. That’s despite the fact that free users outnumber paid users on Spotify by about four to one.

Spotify maintains that many free users are eventually converted into paying customers, so the free offering serves as a valuable gateway. But it’s likely that industry players are going to become increasingly fixated on the growth in paid subscribers instead. That’s where the money is.

TIME Media

HBO Deal to Bring ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘True Detective’ to China

Game of Thrones
HBO

New partnership involves a Chinese online video service run by the tech giant Tencent

Westeros is about to bring another kingdom under its reign. HBO has inked a deal to bring hits like Game of Thrones and True Detective to a Chinese online video service run by the tech giant Tencent, giving Chinese viewers the ability to stream HBO shows legally for the first time.

HBO content is already popular in the country thanks to rampant piracy. Introducing a legal option could help the Netflix-like Tencent Video as it competes with other Chinese web giants like Alibaba, which owns a large stake in the online video site Youku Toudu.

However, like much foreign content, HBO’s shows will be subject to approval by the government before they air or stream. When Game of Thrones was broadcast on Chinese television earlier this year, it was so heavily edited that fans griped that it had been neutered into a “European castle documentary.”

[WSJ]

TIME Media

Don’t Blame Social Media for Ferguson’s Troubles

The Internet is just one more way that, on nights like Monday night, the whole world is watching.

Before St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announced that there was no grand-jury indictment against officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown, he read his own list of charges–against the Internet and the media.

“The most significant challenge encountered in this investigation,” McCulloch said, “has been the 24 hour news cycle and its insatiable appetite for something, for anything, to talk about, following closely behind with the nonstop rumors on social media.” Some witnesses, McCulloch implied, were giving or changing their testimony to reflect what they’d heard or read in the news and social media rather than what they’d actually witnessed.

Obviously misinformation is a challenge for any criminal investigation, much less a racially charged one that becomes world news. That’s why you have a grand jury process–a lengthy and involved one in this case–to sift through the evidence.

And yes, social media can be where people go to repeat what they want to hear or are already inclined to believe, on all sides. Though McCulloch only cited cases of questionable testimony that were damaging to Wilson, we also earlier saw Wilson’s online defenders spread a report that Brown dealt him an “orbital-blowout eye socket fracture” in the confrontation, which photo evidence released from the grand jury proved false. “Social media,” like any media system, is really just a fancy description for a lot of people connected and communicating. It’s as good or bad as the people themselves are.

But we’re better off having social media, especially in situations like Ferguson’s. When the first round of protests broke out in August, it was through social media that reporters first got out the news of their arrests and tear-gassing by riot police, some of whom ordered the reporters–as well as protesters in the crowds–to “stop videotaping” with cameraphones. After the grand-jury announcement, voluminous records from the investigation went up online, for the hive mind of social media to begin poring over and analyzing.

Of course, one person’s “analyzing” is another person’s “second-guessing.” I suspect part of what’s behind the frustration of people like McCulloch is that social media makes everyone a critic. Thousands and thousands of people are watching over your shoulder to see if you slip up, checking what you missed, judging whether you were thorough enough, questioning your agenda. Good. Having everyone watch you do your job, or not do it, may be a pain, it may be stressful, but in an imperfect justice system, it’s not exactly a bad thing.

[It is also, by the way, not just those on the other side of the police line who can spread confusion in a situation like this. Monday night, a Twitter account for the Saint Louis County Police Department tweeted that police were using smoke, not tear gas, against protesters–even as we watched coughing, choking CNN reporters get hit with the gas on camera. Later the department tweeted that police were in fact using tear gas, though, the account said, they deployed smoke first.]

While McCulloch argued that social media made it harder to get to the truth in Ferguson, it was often social media that first got out the truth on the ground–and that raised questions that reporters on site were not always asking first. If prosecutors and police now have to deal with the public surveilling them on social media, so does that 24-hour news media that McCulloch described. (There was plenty of hostility toward TV on the ground in Ferguson too, with protesters yelling “Fuck CNN!” and “Fuck Fox!” on live air.)

The prying, judging eyes of social media may be a hassle for authorities–for lawyers, for law enforcement and for the media itself. But we’re all better off for it. Before social media, it was the last generation of electronic media that got blasted for showing people what authorities didn’t want them to see, like the attacks on protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention, which gave us a phrase–“The whole world is watching!”–that McCulloch himself echoed in his remarks. The citizens of Ferguson, he said, should be “mindful of the fact that the world is watching.”

As police and protesters again clashed brutally on Monday night, the whole world was still watching. And thanks to social media, the whole world is now also reading.

TIME Media

Beyoncé’s Latest Album Is Finally on Spotify

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
Singer Beyoncé attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards in Inglewood, Calif., on Aug. 24, 2014 Jason Merritt—Getty Images

Spotify gets a big release following Taylor Swift's exodus

It took nearly a year, but Beyoncé’s self-titled album is finally available on Spotify.

A platinum edition of Beyoncé, with six new remixes and bonus tracks, is now available on the music-streaming service. The album, released as a surprise last December, was originally only available as an iTunes exclusive but was later released on CD as well. Spotify previously only had a couple of big singles from the album available to stream.

Landing Beyoncé could help Spotify improve what’s been a very rough November. Taylor Swift removed her entire catalogue from the service while very vocally questioning whether Spotify’s model compensates artists appropriately for their work. Later, a Sony Music executive expressed doubts about Spotify’s ability to convert free users into paying customers, saying Swift’s exodus had sparked “a lot of conversation.” Spotify believes its free version is critical to eventually convincing users to purchase premium subscriptions and says its royalty payouts will continue to grow as it gains more customers.

For Beyoncé, releasing her album on Spotify could help it land higher on the album charts. Billboard just announced that it would begin including songs played on music-streaming services in its weekly album rankings. That could help Beyoncé unseat 1989, Swift’s blockbuster release that has topped the charts for three straight weeks.

TIME Media

Google Takes Over North America’s Biggest Digital Billboard

Billed as Times Square's largest and most expensive digital billboard, a new megascreen is debuted in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Nov.18, 2014 in New York City.
Billed as Times Square's largest and most expensive digital billboard, a new megascreen is debuted in front of the Marriott Marquis hotel on Nov.18, 2014 in New York City. Spencer Platt—Getty Images

And it's even higher-res than 4K displays

The lights of Times Square just got a little bit brighter, as Google is taking over a massive new digital billboard that spans an entire city block in the heart of New York.

The new screen is more than 25,000 square feet in size and has a pixel density even greater than high-definition 4K displays. Clear Channel, the company that built the ad space, says it’s the largest digital screen in North America.

Google is taking over the space just in time for Black Friday and the holiday shopping season. The search giant will use the screen to present an interactive mobile game this week in which people can “Androidify” themselves, becoming cartoon characters similar to the ones in Google’s new Android marketing campaign. Google hopes to present 25,000 personalized Android characters on the screen each day. In addition to pushing products like Android, Chrome and Nexus, Google will offer some billboard screen-time to nonprofits such as Charity Water and Khan Academy.

The new screen is located on Broadway between 45th Street and 46th Street. The price of the ad wasn’t disclosed.

 

TIME How-To

8 Netflix Tricks You Just Can’t Live Without

US Online Streaming Giant Netflix : Illustration
In this photo illustration the Netflix logo is seen on September 19, 2014 in Paris, France. Pascal Le Segretain—Getty Images

Find out how to hide the embarrassing stuff you've been streaming

One of the main reasons Netflix is so popular is because of its simplicity. It’s painfully easy to queue up a movie on your laptop, video game console or mobile device and start watching in mere seconds. But that simplicity means there are a lot of features to Netflix that the average customer may not be using.

Here, we’ve rounded up some useful tips to help you get the most out of Netflix:

See What Movies Are Coming and Going

Netflix’s lineup of movies and TV shows is constantly changing as the company gains and loses licensing rights for different content. It’s difficult to get a full picture of the Netflix library from within the app itself, but a variety of third-party websites can help. Sites like Instant Watcher and What’s New On Netflix offer a daily rundown of new releases on the streaming service. Finding out when movies are going to be removed is a little trickier, because Netflix has purposefully obscured that information. However, the site Now Streaming updates regularly with lists of movies that will soon be going offline.

Get Better Search Options

Search options on Netflix are fairly limited, which can make it hard to ferret out quality movies from the service’s vast amount of content. Sites like Instant Watcher let you filter options by parameters such as year released as well as rating on Netflix and Rotten Tomatoes. And if your favorite movie isn’t on Netflix right now, you can use Can I Stream It or WhereToWatch to find out where else a film might be available to stream legally online.

Use Your Phone As a Remote

On the PlayStation 3, customers can use their phone or tablet to control Netflix instead of a video game controller. First, make sure your mobile device and your PS3 are connected to the same Wi-Fi network. Then boot up the Netflix app on both devices, and your phone or tablet can be used to control the movie playing on the big screen — this also works if you’re watching Netflix via a Google Chromecast.

Get Smarter Recommendations

Netflix prides itself on its algorithms that are supposed to serve up content you’ll love that you didn’t even know you wanted. But the process only works if you feed the company a lot of info about what you enjoy. Rate movies regularly to get more precise recommendations, and don’t forget to fill out your taste preferences in your account settings. You can access the taste preferences list by selecting the “Your Account” option on the Web-based version of Netflix.

Change Subtitles

Tired of Netflix’s signature yellow subtitles? You can choose among eight different text colors as well as a background color to place behind the text. The font and text size can also be adjusted. The options are available in the “Your Account” settings on the Web version of Netflix.

Eliminate Buffering

There’s no bigger buzzkill during a riveting movie than being hit with a buffering screen. Netflix has a hidden menu to help you banish buffering. Press Shift + Alt + Left Click (or Shift + Option + Click on a Mac) while streaming a show to bring up a diagnostic screen. Click “Screen Manager,” then select the “Manual” checkbox to alter the stream’s bit rate. A lower number will lower the image quality of the program but will also allow you to watch on a slower connection without constant hiccups. When the buffering screen hits video game consoles and other living room streaming devices, try inputing the code Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, Up, Up, Up, Up on the controller or remote to deactivate Netflix, then reboot it.

Make Profiles for Multiple Users

When you’re sharing your Netflix account with multiple friends and family members, the service’s recommendation algorithm can get pretty muddled. Separate the Law and Order fans from the documentary junkies by setting up separate profiles. You can have five in total and each will get its own viewing history and tailored recommendations. Create new profiles using the “Manage Profiles” option in the settings menu on Netflix.com.

Erase Your Viewing History

You gave into your base desires and binged on Bridezillas for five hours one rainy Sunday afternoon. It’s OK—no one ever has to know. Netflix will let you see a log of your vieiwng history and wipe specific items from the record books across all devices. Simply go to the “Your Account” option in the settings menu, click “Viewing Activity” and click the X on any shows you want to erase. Then you can go on watching trashy reality TV with impunity.

Read next: How to Stop Accidentally Closing Your Browser All the Time

TIME Media

How TIME Secured Its First Interview with Osama bin Laden

Osama Bin Laden
Osama bin Laden is shown in Afghanistan in this April 1998 file photo Anonymous—AP

In 1996, the magazine tracked him down

After the car carrying Sheik Abdullah Azzam hit a land mine, on this day 25 years ago — Nov. 24, 1989 — it took years for TIME to take note of what had come to pass: Azzam’s death meant that his number-two in the jihadi organization Azzam had founded would come to lead the movement.

That man was named Osama bin Laden. It was 25 years ago that he went from being a financier and deputy to the top global proponent of jihad.

Bin Laden received a small mention in TIME in 1993 in a list of figures related to the history of fighting in Afghanistan — but in 1996 the magazine’s Scott MacLeod secured an exclusive interview. Here’s how it happened, as he would describe in the May 6 issue of that year:

Osama bin Laden is a hard man to find. An exile from Saudi Arabia, he has lived in Sudan for five years, but he is a recluse, and his whereabouts are known only to his aides and a handful of Sudanese officials. To arrange to see him, I first had to track down one of bin Laden’s associates in London. Then, at a tearoom near Charing Cross Station, I made a request for a meeting. Several weeks later, bin Laden sent encouragement. I traveled to Khartoum, and waited for a few days at a hotel when a message came through the front desk, “The businessman will see you.”

A Toyota with black-tinted windows picked me up and drove me through Khartoum. Finally, after arriving at a building on the outskirts of the city, I was shown into a cramped office where several bodyguards stood watchfully. Tall, barefoot, smiling broadly, bin Laden greeted me in a gold-trimmed robe and red-checkered headdress.

The final story functions more as an introduction to extremism than as a profile of the man in question, but it nevertheless appears to hint at what the world now knows was the extent of his influence.

Read the full story here in the TIME Vault: The Palladin of Jihad

TIME Media

Thank You, Duggars, Your Homophobia Is Really a Public Service

Duggar family - Woodbridge, VA
Reality telvision celebrities, Jim Bob Duggar, center, and his wife, Michelle Duggar make a stop on their "Values Bus Tour" outside Heritage Baptist Church on Wednesday October 16, 2013 in Woodbridge, VA. The Washington Post—The Washington Post/Getty Images

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie.

When gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon

You would think that, decades after Anita Bryant went on a crusade to rid gay people from public life, we’d be sick of hearing D-listers call us names and voice their hatred against us in public. The latest to really take a stand against gays is Michelle Duggar, the human baby factory who is the matriarch on the reality show “19 Kids and Counting.” This may sound strange, but I would actually like to thank her for her recent behavior.

The Duggars stirred up controversy when they recently asked for people to post pictures of married couples kissing on their Facebook page and then deleted a picture of a gay married couple kissing. (Hello? Who do you think is keeping TLC in business?) When the news of this leaked, activists directed people to sign a Change.org petition to “end LGBTQ fear mongering by the Duggars” and calls for the show to be canceled because of their behavior. It now has well over 120,000 signatures.

For what it’s worth, this isn’t Michelle’s only recent offense. She also recorded a robocall asking that the people of Fayetteville, Arkansas, vote to repeal a law that stops discrimination based on gender identity. Basically she wants people to be able to discriminate against transgender men and women.

Now some people think that we need to silence the Duggars and those like them. I think we should let them keep going. Nothing defeats complacency like knowing exactly where gay people stand with millions of Americans. Now, it’s not a shock that the overly religious Duggars don’t like gay people. That’s sort of like saying that Paula Deen likes butter. But, when gay marriage is passing in state after state, it’s easy to forget that not everyone is on the bandwagon. There are still large groups of Americans out there who want to rob us of our rights, and if we don’t stay vigilant, we’ll never win the war.

Right now we’re having a bit of success in dealing with pop culture homophobes. In May, HGTV decided to cancel a show they were planning to air featuring David and Jason Benham when it was discovered that they had made some nasty comments about gay people very publicly.

Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty made some very homophobic comments to GQ this January, and was mouthing off once again this May about how gay sex is unnatural. He was suspended from A&E briefly for his behavior and the ratings for the show tanked after his disclosure.

That’s why we need these people to keep talking. There’s no doubt in my mind that there is hatred in the hearts of many people for LGBTQ men and women in this country, but if that hatred just stays in their hearts they’ll be working against us without our knowledge. The louder they become, the easier it is to target them. And when we can target them, well, we’ve seen that we can do things to shut them up. If only we could give them all a pie in the face like Anita Bryant got.

Having loudmouth opponents also serves as an effective recruiting tool for allies to gay civil rights causes. Like it or not, reality stars like the Duggars and especially the Robertsons–whose most recent season finale still clocked almost 4 million viewers–have a huge stage. When they make these sorts of remarks there is always a media firestorm and each time that happens, I would like to think that there is at least one fan out there who thinks, “God, what an idiot.” Hopefully that opens up some minds and shows those out there who may not be very hospitable to the “gay lifestyle” that bigotry is distasteful no matter how it manifests itself.

We don’t get to teach these lessons, show our strength or fight these battles if these people are silent. We need people like Michelle Duggar to be loud in order to get the hard work of activism done. So no matter how much it sucks, we have to just take it on the chin every time one of these yahoos has the bright idea to spout off. Trust me, it’s for the greater good. Every time a reality star says something ignorant about the LGBT community, a gay angel gets her wings.

Oscar Wilde, one of the world’s most public and tragic gay men, said “True friends stab you in the front.” There is no doubt in my mind that there are plenty of misinformed people in America carrying daggers against gay people, including those who have a public forum to discuss those views. Why would we want them hiding that hatred in the shadows when, out in the open, it can be diffused, acted on and used as a teaching tool to get more people on our side. We should all thank Michelle Duggar. She thinks that she’s stabbing gay Americans in the front, but what she’s really doing is bloodying herself.

Brian Moylan is a writer and pop culture junkie who lives in New York. His work has appeared in Gawker, VICE, New York magazine, and a few other safe-for-work publications.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

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