Friday, August 17, 2007

Top Video and Movie Sites, Viewers and Advertisers

From Research Brief - A deeper look at most popular video and movie sites, exploring viewer demographics as well as advertisers and types of ads. | Read full article

Gaming Surpasses Video, Social Nets In Online Popularity: Study

From Online Media Daily - OVER A THIRD (34%) OF U.S. adult Internet users play online games weekly, according to Parks Associates, with games trumping social networking and online video as the most popular Web-based entertainment activity.

Online video came in as the second most popular activity, with some 29% of users watching short clips weekly, while social networking rounded out the top three at 19%. The market research company, compiling data from two studies for its new Casual Gaming Market Update, surveyed nearly 2,000 Web users over age 18.

"Despite the growing popularity of YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook, gaming remains the king of online entertainment, driven largely by casual gaming activities," said James Kuai, research analyst, Parks Associates.

Casual games--loosely defined as easy-to-play online games targeted at a mass audience--typically have low production and distribution costs. Parks forecasts that the industry will rake in $400-$500 million this year, with a significant portion of the revenue coming from advertising. | Read full story

MTVN Makes 2-Year $500 Million Gaming Commitment

From Online Media Daily - MTV NETWORKS ON THURSDAY PLEDGED to spend more than $500 million on gaming properties worldwide over the next two years. That includes the $100 million Nickelodeon committed last month to the development, distribution and creation of casual gaming titles, sites and platforms.

The Viacom company's attention to gaming is broad. "Whether hardcore or casual, online or console-based, we know that games are a dominant activity across all our audiences," said Mika Salmi, president, MTVN Global Digital Media. | Read full article

Chicago Tribune's Spawns New Print Papers

From Online Media Daily - IN A REVERSAL OF THE hyper-local formula, which last month saw Washington Post Newsweek Interactive (WPNI) start rolling out narrowly targeted news sites in communities already served by regional print editions of the daily WP, the Chicago Tribune on Thursday launched two weekly print editions spawned by its four-month-old venture in hyper-local citizen journalism,

The new papers, covering Chicago's West and Southwest suburbs, include photos, stories and other contents posted by readers on the Web site, as well as content from Triblocal's own editorial staff. Published by the Tribune's Chicagoland Publishing Company subsidiary, the papers will be distributed with more than 23,000 copies of each Thursday's Tribune in the communities of Batavia, Geneva, St. Charles, Elburn, Maple Park, Orland Park, Orland Hills, Tinley Park and Homer Glen in the Southwest suburbs. | Read full article

Hearst-Argyle Joins Online High School Sports Players

Editor's Note: This is reminiscent of the amateur sport efforts of several years ago...

From Online Media Daily - AMERICA SEEMS TO LOVE HIGH school sports, and high school students certainly love the Internet--so it's no wonder that high school sports Web sites and social networks are a hot item in these back-to-school days.

The latest entrant in the category, High School Playbook, comes courtesy of Hearst-Argyle Television, which has launched the site in seven of its 26 television station markets. The seven stations are accessible through the main Web site at, and are also providing High School Playbook features through dedicated YouTube channels. | Read full story

The Decline of Local News on the Net?

From The New York Times - A week after Google made headlines by opening up Google News to commentary, the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University is weighing in with an interesting study: Creative Destruction: An Exploratory Look at News on the Internet.

The center looked at traffic to 160 news Web sites over the last year and found overall traffic leveling off. But there were some telling distinctions. Newspapers with national brands, like the New York Times, Washington Post and USA Today, saw their audiences grow, on average, 10 percent over the year. Most other newspapers lost visitors. | Read full article

Error in Skype’s Software Shuts Down Phone Service

Editor's note - Yikes! This is not good for those of us who use and depend on Skype.

From The New York Times - The online telephone service Skype was not working for much of the day on Thursday, leaving its 220 million users, some of them small businesses that had given up their landlines, without a way to call colleagues, customers and friends.

Executives at Skype, a division of eBay that is based in Luxembourg, said its engineers worked throughout the day to bring the service back online. But they said that while they had pinpointed the source of the problem, they still did not know why it had resulted in a network failure, and they could not ensure that the service would be running smoothly again by Friday. | Read full article

As Billboards, Public Phones Always Work

Editor's Note - This may be about older technology, but it's a fun read nonetheless.

From The New York Times - They stand on corners from Brighton Beach to the Bronx, all but mocking New Yorkers: Pay phones that may or may not work, which you can’t even check for a dial tone without worrying about germs.

But they remain rooted in the pavement of New York, blocking pedestrian traffic, looking a bit like museum pieces in an age of cellphones, BlackBerrys and Bluetooth headsets.

There is a reason for their survival: Public telephones are one of the stranger cash cows in city finance. Not because of the coins that are fed into them, but rather because of the millions upon millions that companies are willing to pay to put ads on them.

The phone kiosks generate $62 million in advertising revenue annually — and last year the city got $13.7 million of the take. Last year its income from ads was triple what it pulled in from calls. | Read full article

Sony v. Microsoft (With Helmets): The Sequel

From The New York Times - In yesterday’s post about the game console battle between Microsoft and Sony, I noted that the big publisher Electronic Arts has been releasing games for Microsoft’s Xbox 360 many weeks, even months, before releasing them for the Sony PlayStation 3.

This is potentially no insignificant matter because it could give an incentive to consumers looking for a new console to buy the 360 rather than wait for the games to come out on the PS3.

An industry analyst I spoke to said that the reason for the difference in timing was due to the fact that the PS3 itself launched a year after the 360. This means that software developers have had less time to familiarize themselves with the PS3.
Grand Theft AutoGrand Theft Auto

Turns out that rationale is only partly true, according to Electronic Arts. | Read full article

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Jukebox With Hit Potential - Free Online Service Fine-Tunes Music to Listener's Tastes

From The Washington Post - Some of my favorite radio stations don't have DJs. But they do include some other features not found on FM: a button to pause playback, another to skip to the next song and, most important, a playlist I can customize.

Free, interactive music sites like Pandora and are a hybrid of radio station and jukebox. They provide a selection of streaming music to match your tastes, but they don't let you request a particular artist or song.

At their best, these sites give both the comfort of familiarity and the thrill of discovery.

Perhaps as a result, the music industry can't figure out what to do with them. Should they be treated as a substitute for a record collection or as a promotional tool that helps expand those libraries? | Read full article

TV Meets the Web. All Is Safe.

From The New York Times - Just to get this out of the way: “i-Caught,” which had its premiere last week on ABC, is not a sequel to “I Spy.” It is, according to the voice-over at the beginning of the program, “what happens when Internet video comes together with television.”

What happens, apparently — besides a bout of temporary show-naming insanity — is a scramble for the familiar and the reassuring. That would explain why this attempt to recapture some of the eyeballs being drawn away to video-sharing Web sites like YouTube is structured as a combination of “20/20” and “America’s Funniest Home Videos.” | Read full article

Hearst Uses Startup Mentality in Revamp of Magazine Sites

From MediaShift - Hearst Corporation has a long and storied history as a media conglomerate, starting from the days of old-school media baron William Randolph Hearst and his twin inventions of the penny press and sensational journalism, all the way through its current form as a diversified private media company.

In the online arena, it has been more successful as an investor in Internet startups through Hearst Interactive Media (investments include iVillage, Brightcove, Sling Media, and XM Satellite Radio) than through websites related to its own magazines, newspapers or broadcast outlets. For a long time, Hearst’s magazine sites were outsourced completely through iVillage.

But once iVillage was sold to NBC Universal in May 2006, Hearst decided to invest more heavily in its Internet presence, and created a new division, Hearst Magazines Digital Media, dedicated to in-house website production and integration. While this was a late date to start running magazine adjunct websites, long a staple at other publishers, Hearst had the advantage of creating an Internet startup mentality within a big corporation, with little of the legacy systems of a Web 1.0 operation. In the past year, the division has hired more than 100 people (half of whom are in technical or production jobs), and has launched revamped sites for magazines such as Cosmopolitan, Redbook and Seventeen. | Read full article

TV Time-Shifting Boon To Key Demo Numbers

From Media Daily News - PRIME-TIME PROGRAMS CONTINUE TO BENEFIT from time-shifting technology--with many top local TV markets witnessing large 14% to 22% increases in key viewer group ratings. In new research released by the Television Bureau of Advertising (TVB), the TV advertising group says rating-point increases of 2 points or more, in virtually all top markets, were common when it comes to household rating and popular demographic groups, 18-49 and 18-34, during the May sweeps period.

For instance, in Chicago, the market witnessed an 18.5% gain in 18-34 viewers when comparing live viewing plus seven days of DVR playback versus that of live-only viewing--a jump of 2.2 rating points to 14.1 in total. For 18-49 viewers, there was a 16.6% gain or 2.6 rating points to a collective 18.3 rating points. | Read full article

Facebook Diaries Launches Tonight

From NewTeeVee - We’re told that Facebook will be launching its joint project with Comcast’s Ziddio, Facebook Diaries, at about 9 p.m. tonight. The eight-episode weekly series spotlights topics like heartbreak, road trip, and wild nights, with pilot episode “Who Am I” already queued up at

Facebook has been playing around with the project for a while now since announcing it in February, even shooting some of its own video, but the series will be completely user-contributed clips, with editing and motion graphics by producer R.J. Cutler of Actual Reality Pictures. | Read full article

MySpaceTV Beefs Up Sales

From NewTeeVee - Fox Interactive Media has hired Tom Bosco as v-p and head of sales for MySpaceTV, its newly launched video portal. The role includes overseeing all video advertising across MySpace.

Bosco has hopped between various large Internet players over the years, conveniently serving at each when it was trying to get into the online video space. He helped to launch both MSN Video and AOL Video and also served on the IAB broadband committee. | Read full article

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Google and Microsoft Look to Change Health Care

From The New York Times - In politics, every serious candidate for the White House has a health care plan. So too in business, where the two leading candidates for Web supremacy, Google and Microsoft, are working up their plans to improve the nation’s health care.

By combining better Internet search tools, the vast resources of the Web and online personal health records, both companies are betting they can enable people to make smarter choices about their health habits and medical care.

“What’s behind this is the mass consumerization of health information,” said Dr. David J. Brailer, the former health information technology coordinator in the Bush administration, who now heads a firm that invests in health ventures.

It is too soon to know whether either Google or Microsoft will make real headway. Health care, experts note, is a field where policy, regulation and entrenched interests tend to slow the pace of change, and technology companies have a history of losing patience.

And for most people, typing an ailment into a Web search engine is very different from entrusting a corporate titan with personal information about their health. | Read full article

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Online Video Gets Boost From Blockbuster Buy

From Video Insider - JUST LAST WEEK BLOCKBUSTER ACQUIRED the MovieLink download service. The reported purchase price was somewhere in the $20 million range, which when all is said and done might be one of the biggest steals of the year.

MovieLink is a service founded 5 years ago by the movie studies that offers consumers downloadable movie rentals and/or purchases. It was the studios' attempt to do what the major airlines did when they launched Orbitz in 2001. Prior to the creation of Orbitz, the airlines watched as Travelocity and Expedia were quickly scaling their business and becoming both a competitor and a vendor. Their solution was to join the fray and they did so successfully with the creation of Orbitz. | Read full article

Manufacturers Find Ways to Navigate Web Retailing

From The New York Times - FOR manufacturers, the Web can be a hazardous place. Consumers expect these companies to sell their products directly online, but retailers have other thoughts.

How, then, to satisfy all parties?

You don’t, e-commerce executives and analysts said. Manufacturers have realized that they can sell more aggressively to consumers online, which puts them in stronger financial positions and also allows them to serve consumers more effectively. | Read full article

NBC Making a Clean Start in a House of Mixed Media

From The New York Times - After it bought the Web site last year for $600 million, NBC Universal bragged that it had landed a digital darling. The women-focused Internet business was a perfect fit with the “Today” show, executives said, and would turbo-charge their online efforts.

Few people at NBC Universal are boasting about iVillage now.

Promotions on “Today” did not spike traffic to the Web site as expected. Veteran Web employees fled after a decision to move iVillage’s offices to New Jersey from Manhattan. Hearst, which had long featured content from Cosmopolitan and Redbook on the site, severed ties so it could bulk up its own Internet business. | Read full article

Microsoft Completes Aquantive Purchase

From The New York Times - Microsoft has completed the largest purchase in its history, sealing its $6 billion takeover of Internet advertising firm Aquantive.

The software maker closed the deal on Friday, according to a filing Aquantive made Monday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

In the filing, Seattle-based Aquantive said that its board has resigned, as planned, and that it has notified Nasdaq to delist its stock, with the shares now converted into the right to receive a cash payout of $66.50 per share from Microsoft. Aquantive is now a wholly owned subsidiary of Microsoft. | Read full article

Monday, August 13, 2007

Google rolls out online storage services

Editor's note - I wonder how they determined the subscription values for this service. It seems rather high.

From - Web search and internet services company Google Inc. has started selling online storage capacity, a service aimed at users with large picture, music or video file collections.

Google said the storage can be used across several Google products, including photo site Picasa and the e-mail service Gmail. The storage will soon also work with Google Docs & Spreadsheets, the company's online word processing and spreadsheet applications — services the company has rolled out to compete with Microsoft Corp.'s market-leading Office software. | Read full article

Half of Web time spent viewing content: study

From The Washington Post - Content online is king. Internet users spend nearly half their time online viewing news or entertainment content, surpassing activities such as sending e-mails, shopping or searching for information, according to a study released by the Online Publishers Association on Monday.

The four-year study, conducted by Nielsen/NetRatings, tracked a 37 percent increase in amount of time spent viewing content such as online videos or news, surpassing a 35 percent rise in using search engines like Google Inc. (GOOG.O).

The abundance of content and faster online speeds accounted for the spike, the study said. A proliferation of social networks such as News Corps'(NWSa.N) MySpace and Facebook have helped boost content viewing as well. | Read full article

The Joost Problem: American ‘Broadband’

From NewTeeVee - Joost, despite an early lead when it comes to the P2P television is beginning to get some criticism about its video quality. A skeptical report on JoostTeam points out that the bit rate is about half that of video from DivX Stage6 or the iTunes Store. And even that resolution is inferior to standard definition digital video from cable providers.

While Joost promises that they’re working on improving the quality, and touts the power of their advanced video compression codecs, there’s only so much that compression can do. The fundamental problem that Joost faces is the fact that the broadband available to North American households simply isn’t fast enough for them to provide image quality comparable to digital cable or satellite, much less high-definition video. | Read full article

Universal Partners With Google To Rival iTunes

From Gizmodo - Another online music download service is set to enter the ring. The difference this time? The partnership is between Universal and Kingpin, Google. The pairing off was announced earlier last week, but now more details have emerged on the business plan. The service called gBox, (not a euphemism), will be different to traditional offerings such as iTunes, as Google will play the role of advertiser and Universal will pick up the cash from the sale. The dangerous-duo are set to launch on August 21, 2007.

The system actually seems fairly smart and sounds like it may prove to be a threat to the stranglehold Apple has on the market at the moment. | Read full article

Analyzing Skype's Q2, Updated Financial Model

From Internet Outsider - In my opinion, Skype has lost focus, allowing other companies to capture markets it should have owned (Google's new acquisition Grand Central, for example). Skype has yet to roll out a satisfactory small-business solution (main number, PBX, extensions, etc.) and has yet to penetrate the much larger phone-to-phone market. Skype's forays into community and commerce, meanwhile, smack of the core expertise of its parent, eBay, which has no strategic reason for owning the company. eBay should sell Skype to Yahoo, Microsoft, or Google, and focus on its core commerce business. | Read full article

Google to Stop Web Video Rentals, Sales

From The Washington Post - Google Inc. is shutting down a service that sold and rented online video, ending a 19-month experiment doomed by the proliferation of free clips on other Web sites like the Internet search leader's YouTube subsidiary.

The decision, confirmed late Friday, underscores Google's intention to concentrate its financial muscle and brainpower on developing an advertising format to capitalize on the immense popularity of online video. | Read full article

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