Tag: netflix

The Real Starcourt Mall

Starcourt Mall – Stranger Things – via The Verge

The first three season of Netflix’s Stranger Things has been nothing short of a cultural revelation. Yes, the 2nd season was a little weak but the most recent 3rd season that was released over the July 4th weekend has received rave reviews and is considered on par with the series’ breakthrough first season.

A key ‘character’ in the 3rd season was the Starcourt Mall, an astoundingly accurate depiction of 1980s mall culture. While many thought that the mall that was used in the show was built on a soundstage, the reality is that the production crew at Netflix were able to find an actual, ‘stuck in the 1980s’ mall in Gwinnett, Georgia (Stranger Things is shot in and around Georgia).

There’s a reason why the Starcourt Mall, the principal location for the third season of Stranger Things looks so real: it’s built inside of a real shopping mall. Specifically, it was built inside of Georgia’s Gwinnett Place Mall, which was built just a year before the latest season of Netflix’s show is set.

Along with other historically believable shops that the show’s characters visit throughout the course of the show, there are almost a half-dozen extra stores that were built and filled with period-appropriate signage and products, but they never appeared on camera. Typically, film sets aren’t a full structure or room; it’s cheaper to build the bare minimum needed for a shot. That Netflix opted to build out entire stores suggests that the filmmakers wanted a bit of flexibility with how they shot the show, allowing them to shoot from any angle without worrying about an unfinished background.

Jon Porter – The Verge

As a teen of the 1980s, I have been so impressed with the accuracy and attention to detail that Netflix has shown with the production of this show. They have absolutely *nailed* what it was like to be a teen in the 1980s – from the pop culture references to the way they constructed the Starcourt Mall.

Sadly, Netflix is in the process of dismantling the mall in Gwinnett. There were some rumblings that they were going to leave the Stranger Things version of the mall intact for a while so it could be used as a promotional destination but that ended up not happening. I definitely would have wanted to try a cone from Scoops Ahoy.

Folks Are Cutting The Cord

People are fed up and they are not going to take it anymore! At least, this appears to be holding true for their relationship with cable TV companies.

In the first half of 2015, year-over-year growth in MVPD subscribers “multichannel video programming distributor,” or, in plain English, a cable company like Time Warner Cable or Comcast” went negative. Over the past five years, the percent of households with cable subscriptions has been falling. But with year-over-year subscribers still seeing growth, however modest, cable companies were still able to look past what some had seen as a coming cord-cutting apocalypse. It doesn’t get worse than this.

The consistency of the decline in cable subscriptions is pretty amazing if you look at this chart. And as the article illustrates, it is a trend that does not appear to be subsiding anytime soon. The ability for today’s customers to more effectively control how, when, and where they consume their media is nothing short of a tidal shift in customer behavior.

As a focus group of one, the only time I really watch TV programming ‘live’ is for sports or very unique programming events. All the TV shows, series, and ‘pre-produced’ content I watch derives from my DVR, Netflix, HBOGo, movies in my movie library, and other channels on my Apple TV set top box. More times that not, I’m watching those programs on my iPad. And what is even more telling: my children almost never watch TV on the TV – they watch their content via their iPads.

I’ve debated back and forth with some friends who have cut the cord, or are seriously considering cutting the cord, about how they are evaluating the ‘savings’ from making such a move. The thing is that the ‘kabletowns‘ of the world know that their ‘hammer’ is the broadband internet pipe feeding into your house. Folks like Comcast and Time Warner are now offering “Internet Plus” type packages for $60-90/mo that include high speed internet as the primary value with some local TV stations and HBO as add ons, a price point that is significantly lower than the $160-200 folks pay now for bundled services. Yet when you start to add on Netflix ($10/mo), Amazon Prime ($99/yr) and any other type of monthly media services that may be important to you, the total cost starts to creep up to the same price as what Comcast was originally charging for the full Cable/Internet/Phone packages. And I’m not even including your monthly Mobile Phone bill or the cost of devices.

At the end of the day, it really comes down to a lifestyle and personal preference decision. If you are a person who values the idea of surfing around different TV channels to ‘discover’ a program or movie you have not seen, then there is value in the ‘traditional’ cable package. If you are a person like me who doesn’t watch much ‘live’ TV and is just as comfortable finding a TV series via apps like Netflix and HBOGo, then the idea of moving away from subscribing to cable TV as we know it is not that big of a deal. For companies like Comcast, Time Warner, Cox Communications and media organizations like ESPN, these ‘cord cutting’ market shifts should be a big wake up call.

Source: Cable TV subscribers plunging – Business Insider

The Story Behind The Netflix Contest

If you have the time, take a listen to Leo Laporte and Amber MacArthur’s Net @ Night podcast from last week. They had a great conversation with The Ensemble, the team who appears to have submitted the winning submission for the Netflix Prize. As they said repeatedly during the podcast, the suspense of the story is like a movie.

If you are not familiar, a few years ago Netflix announced a contest where they will award $1 Million to any individual or team who substantially improve[s] the accuracy of predictions about how much someone is going to love a movie based on their movie preferences. The minimum improvement in order to be considered for the grand prize is 10%.

The final results of the contest will be announced in September, once Netflix runs the algorithms of the top two submissions through a “pure” data set, in order to validate that the algorithm performance is not skewed by the data used during the contest period. Based on the final submissions, The Ensemble team has the highest improvement at 10.1%.