Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Google Wants to Help Web Sites Make New Friends

From The New York Times - If you run a Web site, you may have a lot of new friends.

Last week, site owners learned they could add information about their users from MySpace and Facebook.

On Monday, Google introduced its take on the same phenomenon, Google Friend Connect.

Google puts two spins on this concept. First, its program is designed to allow very small Web sites to add some social networking features without sophisticated programming. All they have to do is copy a little code onto their Web pages. | Read full article

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Growing Backlash Against PR Spam, And The Rationale For MicroPR

From /Message: - Gina Trapani, of Lifehacker, has created a prspammers wiki where she and others can publicly out PR firms that are spamming bloggers at their personal email addresses, or using other unsavory spammish practices. She announced the blacklist in a twitter message, here, inviting others to add to it.

Various practitioners (Todd Defren, Brian Solis, and so on) have written what I think are heartfelt apologies for the missteps that their firms and the industry as a whole has made. These are being collated at PR Openmic.

Personally, I feel that it is the whole system that is wrong, and piecemeal solutions like blacklists and filtering, and one:one agreements about how I, some specific blogger, should be approached by some specific firm won't work in the long run -- these are all stop gaps and band-aids.

The root cause here is the delusion on the part of the clients that this sort of PR carpet bombing works, that mass media messages embedded in a press release or press release-ish email work, and that we, the bloggers, actually react positively to this junk.

We, the bloggers and journalists, need to stand up and shout, 'Stop! This doesn't work! Shut up! Stop shouting! Stop screaming your bilge! Stop screaming and listen!' We need to shout them down, because they aren't taking our subtle little hints, like deleting the email and not responding. They aren't paying attention. There is no feedback loop, just a messianic faith in the power of PR blitz. | Read full article

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Friends May Be the Best Guide Through the Noise

From The New York Times - CATHY BROOKS is a typically unapologetic Silicon Valley Web addict. Last week alone, she produced more than 40 pithy updates on the text messaging service Twitter, uploaded two dozen videos to various video sharing sites, posted seven photographs on the Yahoo image service Flickr and one item to the online community calendar Upcoming.

Her friends, similarly peripatetic in their Web journeys, also liberally sprinkled photos, videos, blog items and news-article links across the Internet.

But they all followed one another’s activities in one place: a buzzy, online water cooler called FriendFeed that lets people funnel all their online activities into a single information broadcast, and then blast that broadcast to anyone who wants to listen in.

“It’s a great catch-all way for me to have all my stuff in one place, and it lets me see a more comprehensive view of the ecosystem of my friends,” said Ms. Brooks, 39, a business development director at an online video start-up company in San Francisco.

Companies like FriendFeed — and there seem to be a growing number of them these days — are trying to solve a problem that the Internet itself created. The proliferating number of blogs, user-generated content services and online news sources has created a dense information jungle that no human could machete his or her way through in a lifetime, let alone in an afternoon of surreptitious procrastination at work. | Read full article

Monday, April 28, 2008

Rossellini Unsure if Films Can Make Money Online

From The New York Times - While Isabella Rossellini enjoyed her foray into new media with her short films about insect sex, she is not sure they could turn a profit, given that so much content is available on the Internet for free.

While a strike by screenwriters recently brought television and movie production to a halt over the issue of Internet royalties, actors and directors are also concerned about what they should earn for work distributed online, Rossellini told a panel discussion at New York's Tribeca Film Festival.

"It is unclear how the money comes back," said Rossellini, 55, who wrote, directed and featured in a series of short films about the sex life of insects called "Green Porno" that were made for the screens of cell phones, iPods and laptops.

Rossellini, who after years of acting and modeling is one of the world's most recognizable faces, said it was easy for her to be experimental with the backing of Robert Redford and the Sundance Channel, but added she was still trying to work out how to make money in new media. | Read full article

Monday, April 14, 2008

Seattle radio station expands to NYC

From Lost Remote - Radio is having a tough time these days. More people are plugging their iPods into their cars (or playing mix CDs), and the radio audience is shrinking. But public radio station KEXP in Seattle is a great study on how to jump the curve. Beginning today, it’s simulcasting in New York, and KEXP’s morning show host will split his time between the two cities. So how did a local station in Seattle suddenly move into the nation’s largest market? First, KEXP is a “discovery engine” for new music. They scour MySpace, music blogs, just about everywhere for new original bands. (Like Vampire Weekend, which KEXP played first, and now the band is blowing up.) Their playlists rarely repeat. In short, you listen to KEXP to find new music to buy, right from KEXP.org (or elsewhere, if you prefer). Second, KEXP.org has simulcast the radio station for years, building up a massive national audience online (bigger than its local audience). It gave away free music podcasts before anyone was doing it. This is how KEXP got noticed in NYC and why WNYE-FM did the deal. Third, KEXP is listener supported. No ads (well, there are sponsor messages that run :05). But during their sponsor drives, people donate money from all over the country. | Read full article

Virgin Media CEO Says Net Neutrality is “A Load of Bollocks”

I don't pay for high-speed to get my ISP's preferred feeds. This is tantamount to a cash grab. A consumer revolt is in order.


From Torrent Freak - The new CEO of Virgin Media is putting his cards on the table early, branding net neutrality “a load of bollocks” and claiming he’s already doing deals to deliver some people’s content faster than others. If you aren’t prepared to cough up the extra cash, he says he’ll put you in the Internet “bus lane”. | Read full article

Thursday, April 10, 2008

SheKnows.com Launches Daily Online TV Show

We are curious to see what it looks like in terms of content and production values...


From Media Post - SHEKNOWS.COM, AN ONLINE DESTINATION for women, announced the kick off of "Daily Dish" (DailyDish.SheKnows.com), an originally produced daily TV show focused on women's interest topics related to entertainment, sex, style, food, home, parenting, pregnancy and health.

SheKnows is currently one of the top 10 properties for women online and joins a select few as one of the only women's sites (such as iVillage, www.iVillage.com) with an online daily TV show. Each daily video segment is 3-5 minutes in length and coincides with full-length editorial coverage within the site.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Rumor: Has Vudu raised more than $40M?

From Venture Beat - We’ve heard a rumor that Vudu, a startup seeking to bring internet video to your television, has raised more than $40 million of funding. Our source says hedge funds are the likely backers.

I emailed the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company a few minutes ago, and I’ll update if they get back to us.

We haven’t heard of too many other fundings in this area, mainly because the market seems dominated by big players like Apple and Comcast. Vudu already raised $21 million back in 2005, so if the rumors are true, the company will have a pretty big war chest.

We’ve heard good things about the company — whose big selling point appears to be the speed of its peer-to-peer technology, and whose service launched last September — but it will definitely need all the money it can get to take on challengers such as Apple TV and Netflix (which later this summer is releasing a living room box in conjunction with LG). Earlier this year, Vudu dropped the price of its set-top box from $399 to $295 in a pre-emptive move to take on the newcomers.

The company may also be looking to expand its offerings soon: Recently, chief executive Mark Jung said he’s willing to “experiment with everything, save just two core things: the user interface and the ability to transmit high-quality video on the turn of a dime,” and that Vudu will be trying out ad-supported content soon, according to NewTeeVee.

Online Sales to Grow 17 Percent in '08

Nine years ago, companies like Boo.com invested heavily in the idea that people would do a huge amount of shopping online. Unfortunately, the time for e-commerce going mainstream had yet to come. This study, however, indicates that not only are consumers comfortable making purchases online, they are increasingly changing their purchasing behaviors in unprecedented ways.


From The New York Times - Online spending is expected to rise a robust 17 percent this year, despite a sluggish economy that has bruised many brick-based retailers, according to an annual survey to be released Tuesday.

Retail sales online, excluding travel purchases, are set to grow to $204 billion in 2008 from $174.5 billion last year, fueled by sales of apparel, computers and autos, according to a survey conducted by Internet analysis firm Forrester Research for Shop.org, the online arm of the National Retail Federation trade group. That projection is below the 21 percent increase seen in the prior year, but industry officials attribute it to the maturing of the business, not the sluggish economy.

E-commerce ''is clearly the bright spot in retailing,'' said Scott Silverman, executive director of Shop.org.

The upbeat report contrasts with the outlook for many traditional retailers, which have been paring down store growth and closing shops as they struggle with consumers who don't feel like spending amid higher gas and food costs, a housing slump and a weaker job market. The exceptions are discounters and wholesale clubs, as shoppers turn to less expensive stores. | Read full article

Monday, April 7, 2008

Xbox 360's Wiimote Accessory Is Already In Development, Coming This Generation

This is hardly a surprise. Kudos to Nintendo!

From Gizmodo - Microsoft's been working on a Wiimote-esque controller due to come out late this year—development started on it all the way back in Summer '07—but the whole process has been "a colossal clusterfuck." Here's what MTV news knows courtesy of their exclusive source, who sketched out what it looks like above.

The 360 Wiimote shaped very much like the Nintendo Wii's Wiimote and has a speaker, microphone, four LED lights, A/B/X/Y face buttons, an analog stick and an underside trigger. The Wiimote, on the other hand, doesn't have a Microphone and has a D-pad instead of an analog stick. It's being worked on by Rare, who are trying to come up with a "unified interface and look for the controller." The current problem Microsoft's having is between marketers and designers. The former wants it just about exactly like the Wiimote so they can match them on spec sheets and lure game developers into porting over Wii games onto the 360. The designers want it to be even more feature-rich than just the Wii, and describe it as Halo, Gears and Forza "in waggle form." | Read full article

Joost faces TV squeeze

From The Times Online - JOOST, the online television service launched with a fanfare last year by the founders of internet telephony firm Skype, is preparing for a major retrenchment after failing to attract enough users and top-flight broadcasting rights.

The company is expected to rein in its global ambitions to focus solely on the US market.

Set up as an antidote to YouTube by Niklas Zennstrom and Janus Friis after they sold Skype to online auctioneer Ebay, Joost has been overshadowed by the success of the BBC’s iPlayer, and in America, Hulu, a collaboration between NBC and News Corporation, the ultimate owner of The Sunday Times.

It has struggled to convince media and sports companies to sell it global rights, which are normally parcelled out to broadcasters country by country. | Read full article

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Amazon Accelerates Its Move to Digital

As the digital media marketplace grows (the one pay-per access/download model, not the Bit Torrent world), Amazon is a viable option. Having tried the Amazon MP3 store, I can say it doesn't compare to the simplicity of iTunes, but it has huge potential. With interface and functionality tweaks, it could be very easy to use. Why don't companies put the effort into product development that they should? It's the digital marketplace equivalent of going into a store and not being able to find the checkout.

From The New York Times - Over the last 14 years, Amazon.com has mastered the art of getting physical copies of books, music and movies to customers through the mail. Now it is trying to add to its repertoire in a hurry.

The overall market for entertainment and information is inexorably going digital. One day, most music, movies and perhaps even printed words will be sent as bits over the Internet instead of in bulky boxes. More than half of the company’s $15 billion in sales last year came from CDs, DVDs and books, shipped from Amazon’s 30 cavernous distribution centers around the world. | Read full article

"Free" is Killing Us--Blame The VCs

This posting is right on the money. So - digital entrepreneurs, how can you make money online if ads only work for larger sites? Go free and hope to be acquired?

From The Silicon Alley Insider - I believe it should be possible to start a small business and to have a small number of profitable customers, and to earn a living. From there, it should be possible to work hard, and to grow your business into something substantial. Until recently, this was the American way, and it applied to technology as much as to any other business. But no more.

In today’s “free” world, in most online business categories, it is inherently impossible to start a small self-sustaining business and to grow it. This is because in the digital world, advertising, the only real revenue stream, cannot support a small digital business. If businesses were based on the idea that people paid for services then small companies could succeed at a small scale and grow. But it is very hard to charge when your competition is free.

The economic problem with advertising businesses is that advertising businesses do not work without really significant scale. In the past, a good product or service could address a niche and succeed without being a home run. Today, a home run is required because if you do not reach a massive scale, advertisers are uninterested. And even if advertisers could be attracted, CPMs are so low that the revenue would be inconsequential. Small Internet businesses don’t work. | Read full article

Thursday, April 3, 2008

NBC Announces New Chapters of Webisodes For NBC.com

From Media Post - NBC DIGITAL ENTERTAINMENT ON WEDNESDAY announced its full slate of content for the summer and fall seasons, including original webisodes for "Heroes," "Chuck," and "The Office," as well as "30 Rock 360," a new original digital production--"Fears, Secrets & Lies"--and digital features for each new show.

New chapters of webisodes for "Heroes," "Chuck" and "The Office" will debut on NBC.com beginning in July. Additional chapters of webisodes for each show will roll out throughout the season. Each chapter of webisodes will continue to weave online with on-air creative to give fans a deeper entertainment experience.

NBC.com will also debut its second season of original productions with "Fears, Secrets & Desires." This series will be available exclusively on NBC.com.

Net Radio Gain: CBS Radio, Last.fm Collaborate

From Media Post - INTERNET RADIO IS SEEING THE flurry of content and sales deals continue in first-quarter 2008. The latest partnership brings together CBS Radio and Last.fm to share content. The deal will allow the Internet company to stream audio from CBS radio station broadcasts live, while giving listeners from the CBS Radio Internet Network access to Last.fm's library of free online music.

For Last.fm, the deal represents a substantial increase in the number of broadcast partners and breadth of content it can offer--adding CBS Radio's 140 stations to its existing partnerships with Universal, EMI, Warner Music Group and Sony BMG, as well as about 150,000 independent artists and studios. The station list includes top CBS properties like New York's WCBS-FM, Los Angeles' KROQ, Chicago's WXRT and Atlanta's WVEE. Last.fm users will be able to access the content through CBS' new online audio player. | Read full article

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

New Gijit Widget!

Add the brand-spanking new Gidjit widget to your site, blog or profile!

Google/Skype Acquisition or Partnership Imminent?

From Tech Crunch - Something big is brewing between Google and Ebay’s Skype, we’ve heard from multiple sources. Actually, for weeks now there have been low level rumors of the two companies talking, but nailing down any details was difficult. New information, however, suggests that they are in current talks and that a partnership or outright acquisition may be announced in the near future.

Skype, acquired in late 2005 for $3.1 billion, has been a financial albatross around Ebay’s neck. eBay removed Skype co-founder and CEO Niklas Zennstrom in October 2007, reportedly due to frustration at the financial performance of Skype. Ebay also negotiated down the huge earnout due to Skype stockholders and took a $936 million one-time loss around the transaction.

It’s clear that eBay wants to either unload Skype, or significantly drive performance. | Read full article

Networks see little profit in online broadcasting

There is no surprise in this article for me; online “broadcasting” is so new and ad models are still emerging. It’s going to be a while until this kind of service draws the audience and revenues (and develops the right ad models) that are more effective than what’s online today. I also doubt that it will replace TV (why is there always this mention in articles?) - but will find its place along side broadcast media – at a larger scale than at present, as people’s behaviors shift to match new content availability... And at the end of the day, it can be profitable, just not as much as TV — which is the same as how selling music through iTunes is profitable, but not as profitable as the old CD/in-store sales model.

From The Globe and Mail -- The biggest thing keeping television networks from wholeheartedly embracing the Internet is that online programming does not make nearly as much money as traditional TV, a new report says.

The report, to be published today by Convergence Consulting Group Ltd., indicates online broadcasting, despite its growing popularity, is still viewed by networks as a complementary business, rather than a replacement for TV.

"There is no current economic rationale for broadcasters and cable networks to abandon traditional TV or attempt to accelerate a transition to a total online model," says the report, which looks at the North American broadcasting and telecom sector.

The findings indicate why online TV in the U.S., though growing much faster than in Canada, still lags behind the prime-time offerings of network television, even though the broadcasters hold digital rights to most of their content. In Canada, where broadcasters don't own those rights, much less content is available online.

Smaller audiences and fewer commercial minutes during Web episodes and clips make it difficult to earn ad revenues comparable to television, said Brahm Eiley, president of Convergence Consulting. | Read full article

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Dreaming of a 3-D Web

From The New York Times - Vivaty, the company I wrote about in Monday’s paper, represents the fulfillment of a 14-year-old dream to bring 3-D images to the Web.

The company, which will begin a private test of its service on Facebook this week, wants to offer 3-D chat rooms and social environments on any blog, Web site or social networking page. These will be integrated into the Web — smaller but easier to access versions of massively multiplayer platforms like Second Life.

Early Web designers have been thinking about three-dimensional Web images since the Web was first gestating in 1994. They created the VRML standard, so Web browsers could interpret 3-D graphics like a cube or logo, or other complex objects on a static Web page. | Read full article

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Music Industry’s New Extortion Scheme

From Tech Crunch - Musicians themselves may just be crazy, but the music labels are dangerously stupid, and need to be stopped before they can do any further damage to the music industry. Case in point: Warner Music, fully aware that the days of charging for recorded music are coming to an end, is now pushing for a music tax.

This isn’t the first time someone has called for a music tax. Peter Jenner argued for it in Europe in 2006. Trent Reznor said the same thing last year (as did the Songwriters Association of Canada). Mathew Ingram has other examples.

But Warner Music is doing more than just talking about a music tax. They’ve hired industry veteran Jim Griffin to create a new entity that would create a pool of money from user fees to be distributed to artists and copyright holders. Lawsuits against their customers aren’t working (The RIAA sent out 5,400 letters in the last year, says Portfolio, settling with 2,300 of those individuals and suing 2,465 who didn’t respond). | Read full article

Apple developing full-fledged digital lifestyle fitness companion

From Apple Insider - Electronics maker Apple Inc. is developing a digital fitness companion system based around its iPhone and iPod touch players aimed a helping americans, and folks in general, live a healthier and more fit lifestyle.

A series of patent filings discovered by AppleInsider this week provides an overview of four distinct components that will comprise the system, including an iTunes-like software application, hardware-based heart rate and physiological sensors, a rewards tracker, and a component to facilitate synchronous group activities. | Read full article

Thursday, March 27, 2008

YouTube Debuts Viewer Analytics Tool

The service is designed to help video makers understand more about where their viewers are and how those viewers found their videos.

From Information Week - Online video makers can now watch those watching their videos.

Google (NSDQ: GOOG)'s YouTube on Thursday released YouTube Insight, a free video analytics tool designed to help video makers understand more about where their viewers are and how those viewers found their videos.

"For example, uploaders can see how often their videos are viewed in different geographic regions, as well as how popular they are relative to all videos in that market over a given period of time," a YouTube blog post explains. "You can also delve deeper into the lifecycle of your videos, like how long it takes for a video to become popular, and what happens to video views as popularity peaks."

The metrics YouTube is making available are likely to be appreciated by marketers and professional video makers, who can use the information to see where videos are popular and to correlate changing viewership with related promotions and events. | Read full article

CBC Torrent Caught Up in ISPs’ BitTorrent Throttling

From New Tee Vee - The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation recently made a bold decision to release an episode of the show Canada’s Next Great Prime Minister through BitTorrent. The move was remarkable not only because the national broadcaster decided to go completely ad- and DRM-free, but because it openly embraced platforms that are usually known for pirated content, the Pirate Bay and Mininova.org.

But the experience has taught CBC a valuable lesson: Play with the outlaws, and you’re going to be treated like one. Numerous users have reported being unable to access the show downloads due to ISP-based BitTorrent throttling. To make matters worse, telecom company Bell Canada has just begun to throttle P2P traffic for all of its wholesale customers, potentially affecting a huge number of customers of other ISPs that resell Bell’s DSL service. | Read full article

Comcast agrees not to interfere with file-sharing

From CNN - Comcast Corp., an Internet service provider under investigation for hampering online file-sharing by its subscribers, announced Thursday an about-face in its stance and said it will treat all types of Internet traffic equally.

Since user reports of interference with file-sharing traffic were confirmed by an Associated Press investigation in October, Comcast has been vigorously defending its practices, most recently at a hearing of the Federal Communications Commission in February.

Consumer and "Net Neutrality" advocates have been equally vigorous in their attacks on the company, saying that by secretly blocking some connections between file-sharing computers, Comcast made itself a judge and gatekeeper for the Internet. | Read full article

Adobe opens shop on Web-based Photoshop Express

From C Net - Adobe Systems opened up Photoshop Express on Thursday, its long-anticipated Web-based image editor aimed at the millions of consumers that want a simple way to touch up, share, and store photos.

Photoshop Express, available for free with 2 gigabytes of storage at www.photoshop.com/express, is a significant departure from Adobe's desktop software business and a big bet that it can make money offering Web services directly to consumers.

The application, which needs Flash Player 9 to run, pushes the limits of browser-based applications and will likely ratchet up the competition on the dozens of free and online photo-editing products available now... | Read full article

Researchers Play Tune Recorded Before Edison

From The New York Times - For more than a century, since he captured the spoken words “Mary had a little lamb” on a sheet of tinfoil, Thomas Edison has been considered the father of recorded sound. But researchers say they have unearthed a recording of the human voice, made by a little-known Frenchman, that predates Edison’s invention of the phonograph by nearly two decades. | Read full article

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Canadians make music, not war

From The Globe And Mail - If you look at figures released by market research firm NPD Group for video game sales in Canada and the United States in February, a potentially fascinating cultural difference becomes apparent: when it comes to games, it seems Canadians like to make music and Americans like to make war.

Despite it’s hefty $170 price tag and bulky box, the Xbox 360 edition of Rock Band, Electronic Arts’ popular rock music simulator, has been flying off store shelves north of the border, sitting comfortably atop the Canadian chart in January and placing second in February (Wii Play, a collection of mini-games being scooped up by consumers for the Wii remote that comes bundled with it, took top spot in February). What’s more, three of the top five games on Canada’s February chart are music themed: Activision’s axe grinding Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock for Xbox 360 and Rock Band for PlayStation 2 came in third and fifth, respectively. | Read full article

The Redemption of Joost

[Note, as Joost prepares to launch a browser-based version of its software, we are going to add a new topic link for all things Joost we come across!]

Joost has the bits of a fabulous distribution technology, but currently it doesn't have the users to back up the early promise (or ... hype) of transforming the TV industry.

Two potential outcomes (but not the only ones):

- Joost launches its browser-based version. The world rejoices. Users flock to high-quality video.
- Joost white labels its software infrastructure and licenses it to existing services that need to cut distribution costs

Joost has a fantastic concept to build upon, and a business model content providers can get excited about. All it needs to do is get users excited and make the case to producers...

A feature article from Portfolio - I Don't Want My Web TV

Internet TV startup Joost, backed by CBS, was supposed to be as big as YouTube. Instead, it's in danger of being squeezed out as the networks scramble for a billion-dollar payday. | Read full article

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Why I'm Not Excited About Sanctioned Bit Torrenting Of Network TV Shows

Bob Cringely, you were a Bit Torrenting business model genius four years ago, but it's only now that the broadcast world is ready to seriously contemplate what you were doing.

I recently read that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation is about to be the first North American broadcaster to provide a series of a network show in high definition video files through Bit Torrent, the peer-to-peer file sharing distribution platform.

I've been impressed for many years at Bit Torrent's incredible ability to provide distribution of very large media files to users at incremental costs. Cringely's Nerd TV was one of the first examples I noticed around four years ago. I haven't seen too many legitimate uses since, except in the downloading of game patches, etc. by publishers. But as interesting as the CBC's exercise is, I think it's more of an experiment than the first wave of how broadcasters distribute their content.

I work for a TV and film producer, and while my focus is digital media, the company relies on a tried and true business model to produce and sell programs -- the same model broadcasters rely on to acquire them.

Shows are often commissioned by a broadcaster for exclusive use in a given territory. This means iTunes sales, which can be limited to specific countries, work well with this business model, as do streaming-only agreements (not downloads). But when it comes to web rights, either broadcasters work out an agreement with the producer to make certain materials available on the web globally, or they build a digital fence around content, limiting access to only certain regions. This is the strategy the BBC is using with its iPlayer as well as ABC.com's streaming of full length shows, among others.

Bit Torrent just doesn't make this possible. And in the case of shows like Canada's Next Prime Minister, where resale outside of Canada is just not likely, a file-sharing release to a limited worldwide audience makes sense.

Companies, such as those that produce hit programming for networks, make their biggest profit from reselling their shows around the world to broadcasters. And these broadcasters also get access to hit programs from other countries for a fraction of the cost it took to produce them, often acquiring the digital rights for the show in their region as part of the deal.

So while Canada's Next Prime Minister is a great foray into DRM free distribution online, I don't expect to see HBO or the producers of LOST (or ABC for that matter, which is in the process of morphing it's ABC.com destination into a video platform) rushing to join in with their high-quality content.

Also, it's worth mentioning that Bit Torrenters, myself included, make up a small majority of online users. However vocal we are, I don't expect my mom, dad, sister or wife to find shows this way.

I'll be curious to see how the CBC's experiment unfolds, particularly as I assume they will be seeding show files from their servers (thus mitigating the sometimes painfully slow bit torrent downloads I have endured). Will people take notice? Will it help the show?

Perhaps, however, this will lead to a different approach to content. As more users go online and discover video through destinations such as ABC.com, I think Bob Cringley got it right with Nerd TV almost half a decade ago.

Producers & networks, create something unique that doesn't fall under the rules of the existing business broadcaster model and provide it through Bit Torrent. Then sell ad space and track torrent downloads. Measure the effectiveness of web site calls to action embedded in the show. Balance production costs with expected returns (realistically, they will be low) and see where it takes you. Now this is something to get excited about.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Making millions when the boss isn't looking

From The Globe And Mail - It's one of the fastest-growing, most lucrative departments at CBS Corp. right now. But the company's president, Les Moonves, has a far more blunt way to describe how the network has turned March Madness basketball into an Internet gold mine.

“People sit at their computers and waste away their afternoons watching basketball games while their bosses are looking the other way,” Mr. Moonves told analysts recently in New York.

When asked about the advertising dollars CBS expects this year from online broadcasts of the annual U.S. college tournament starting today, Mr. Moonves simply added: “We are having our best year, by far. Ever.” | Read full article

Apple talking to labels about unlimited music

From The Globe And Mail - Apple Inc. is mulling a plan to upend its iTunes business by giving people unlimited free access to the music library if they're willing to pay more for the iPod and iPhone devices they use for playing and storing the digital media, according to a report published Wednesday.

Some analysts threw cold water on the plan outlined in the Financial Times, however, saying Cupertino-based Apple would risk creating an "accounting nightmare" and alienating some artists if it started giving away songs on its iTunes online store. | Read full article

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Big picture in a small package

Sony's OLED TV is vivid, small and ‘cute'

ust when you thought it was safe to buy a TV again, along comes the next wave of technology to make your recently purchased wall-sized liquid-crystal or gas-plasma television appear quaint.

It's a display technology called organic light emitting diode, or OLED, and Sony is the first to reach the consumer market with it as a standalone TV, which Sony has placed in its Bravia series. The XEL-1 model is a cute little thing, small enough to pass for a digital picture frame on a desktop, but one that happens to deliver TV.

Aside from the new screen, the XEL-1 is a basic TV with a couple of à-la-minute goodies tossed in. It comes with a remote control and two HDMI ports to connect to video from, say, a Blu-ray disc player and an HDTV set-top box. There's also a memory-stick port and a USB DMeX connection so you can watch content from Sony's Bravia Internet Video Link service. That service requires another box (selling for about $249), which will stream, via your cable Internet service (not DSL), Internet video, music videos, movie trailers and RSS feeds from AOL, Yahoo, Grouper, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sony BMG Music.

Early prototypes reported there would be an Ethernet port to connect the XEL-1 to your home computer network, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside in the production model. | Read full article

Thursday, February 14, 2008

If You Can’t Let Go, Twitter

From The New York Times - SOMETIMES, you just have to trust your relatives. You have to be willing to let them leave the house unchallenged. Suspend disbelief and let them take the car.

That’s what I tell my three daughters, anyway. But it never works out like that.

They just can’t let me go. | Read full article

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

In CBS Test, Mobile Ads Find Users

From The New York Times - Pssst, hey you! There’s a cheap latte waiting at the coffee shop on the corner!

CBS plans to announce on Wednesday that it is trying one of the first serious experiments with cellphone advertising that is customized for a person’s location. Its CBS Mobile unit is teaming up with the social networking service Loopt, which allows its subscribers to track participating friends and family on their mobile phones.

The ads will appear on two Web sites that are tailored for mobile devices, CBS Mobile News and CBS Mobile Sports. | Read full article

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Social Sites Don't Deliver Big Ad Gains

As Microsoft Corp. makes a $44.6 billion bet on Internet advertising with its unsolicited offer for Yahoo Inc., there are signs that some of the biggest new places where consumers are flocking on the Web -- social networking and video-sharing sites -- are yielding advertising revenue slower than some Internet companies had hoped.

The latest warning that the hottest Web properties are proving difficult to make money from came from Internet giant Google Inc. While announcing disappointing fourth-quarter earnings Thursday, Google executives said the company was having a harder time than it expected generating ad revenue on social-networking sites and ... | Read full article

Friday, January 25, 2008

Traditional Media Ready to Elevate the Conversation Online — with Moderation

From MediaShift - Major media sites have started to get the religion of audience participation, but there’s been one big hitch: How do you harness the audience’s knowledge and participation without the forums devolving into a messy online brawl that requires time-intensive moderation?

Over the years, traditional media sites have tried forums, killed them, and tried them again, this time with more moderation. But still, the unruly aspect of online commentary continues to upset people, as the Hartford Courant’s public editor Karen Hunter recently railed against the “uncivil discourse” on her site’s comments, blaming it on anonymous commenters and calling for a requirement that people use their real names. Then Topix CEO Chris Tolles defended anonymous contributions, comparing unregistered commenters on Topix to those that register and found that while unregistered comments are slightly more likely to violate posting guidelines, three times of all comments came from unregistered commenters.

What has changed in the last year is that major media companies are no longer arguing over whether they should have comments under stories or blogs; instead, the debate is about how they should moderate them and even highlight the best ones in eye-catching editorial spaces. Many sites are embracing the concept of “news as a conversation,” and trying to create active conversations among reporters, editors and readers online. The New York Times released a more robust commenting function recently, where readers can recommend each other’s comments, and there are “Editor’s Selections” for the best comments in a thread. And last weekend BusinessWeek.com started highlighting one commenter per day on its home page, with a photo of the commenter. | Read full article

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Headwinds for online advertising

From The Globe And Mail - The explosive growth of online advertising may slow somewhat because consumers are beginning to find some of its techniques intrusive, consulting firm Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu believes.

While many consumers find advertising annoying, Deloitte said there are signs they are taking a particular dislike to ads in the online world. It cited a survey last year of consumers in the United States that found the majority noticed print ads more than those online, but also found them less invasive.

People are also objecting to advertisers following their every move online, according to Deloitte. Perhaps the best demonstration of that came last month when Facebook pulled its Beacon ad program that tracked the purchases its members made online and then alerted their social networks.

A slowdown in online ads would be discouraging news for companies looking to expand beyond traditional advertising, as well as for the media companies and websites that rely on online ads for growth.

Nevertheless, Deloitte expects this segment of advertising will expand further in 2008. “Even if the growth of online advertising does slow in 2008, slower growth should be put in perspective. Online advertising is expected to generate tens of billions of dollars worth of revenues in 2008 from a relatively small, addressable market.” | Read full article

CBC Radio show adds a wiki

From The Globe And Mail - Much of what we call "public" radio often isn’t that public -- if by public you mean interactive -- apart from maybe the call-in shows, where everyone gets to rant about how the prime minister is a moron. Some radio programs are trying to change that, however, including a couple that are featured on our national broadcaster, the CBC.

Spark, a show about technology and culture hosted by founding Definitely Not The Opera host/producer Nora Young, has launched not only a blog (something many shows have), but has taken the idea one step farther and has added a “wiki.” The term wiki -- which comes from a Hawaiian slang term meaning “quickly” -- refers to websites that anyone can edit or contribute to easily. One of the most popular examples is Wikipedia, the “open source” encyclopedia, which allows anyone to add a fact or create an entry.

Ms. Young says that she hopes that listeners will use the Spark wiki, located here, to offer thoughts about show topics, to contribute questions for guests who might be coming up on the program, and generally to interact with her and the rest of the show staff. | Read full article

Last.fm, labels launch free music on-demand

From The Globe And Mail - Last.fm, the social music network owned by CBS Corp., said on Wednesday it is introducing a free service for fans to listen to their favourite songs on-demand.

The new service is being launched in partnership with the four major music companies, as well as over 150,000 labels and artists.

When fans in the United States, Britain and Germany search for an artist on the Last.fm website, they can now stream the artist's song for nothing or pay to download an MP3 version of the song via Amazon.com.

Last.fm said the streaming service is funded by advertising revenue, which is shared with the music companies.

The move comes nearly six years after Last.fm first started reaching out to music companies to license songs to stream on its site.

“They wouldn't even take our calls back then,” said Last.fm co-founder Martin Stiksel.

“But our motto to always do the right thing by respecting artist copyright has helped us in our discussions,” he said. | Read full article

Last.fm, labels launch free music on-demand

From The Globe And Mail - Last.fm, the social music network owned by CBS Corp., said on Wednesday it is introducing a free service for fans to listen to their favourite songs on-demand.

The new service is being launched in partnership with the four major music companies, as well as over 150,000 labels and artists.

When fans in the United States, Britain and Germany search for an artist on the Last.fm website, they can now stream the artist's song for nothing or pay to download an MP3 version of the song via Amazon.com.

Last.fm said the streaming service is funded by advertising revenue, which is shared with the music companies.

The move comes nearly six years after Last.fm first started reaching out to music companies to license songs to stream on its site.

“They wouldn't even take our calls back then,” said Last.fm co-founder Martin Stiksel.

“But our motto to always do the right thing by respecting artist copyright has helped us in our discussions,” he said. | Read full article

Digital music sales up 40% in year

From The Globe And Mail - Record companies' revenue from digital music sales rose 40 per cent to $2.9-billion (U.S.) over the past year, but the growth is still failing to cover losses from collapse of international CD sales, the music industry's global trade body said Thursday.

The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, or IFPI, said the increase in legitimate music sales did not come close to offsetting the billions of dollars being lost to music piracy, with illegal downloads outnumbering the number of tracks sold by a factor of 20-to-1.

But the trade group said it welcomed efforts by French President Nicholas Sarkozy, who has proposed a clampdown on those who violate copyright laws.

Mr. Sarkozy called in November for Internet service providers in France to automatically disconnect customers involved in piracy. | Read full article

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

What Do Casual Games And Pharmaceuticals Have In Common?

From Video Insider - I recently flipped through an issue of Time magazine and noticed that pharmaceutical companies not only push their latest sleep aids, cholesterol suppressors and erectile dysfunction meds, but they also compete for market share amongst themselves.

The issue I looked at had ads for Actonel, AdVair, Ambien, Cymbalta, Cypher Stent, Medco, Rozerem and Zetia. My first thought was, There is an awful lot of money used to advertise these well-known drug brands. At the same time, I thought about the value proposition of online video advertising:

* touches millions of consumers each month.
* has sophisticated consumer targeting and tracking with each ad served.

Out of curiosity I looked at Time's online rate card, and with simple math I calculated the combined monthly ad-spend of all the pharmaceutical companies to be in the neighborhood of $3 million — just one issue. I looked deeper into what Time offers advertisers and found that the magazine guarantees 19.5 million impressions per month, charges a hefty $48 CPM for black-and-white full-page ads and a whopping $74 CPM for full-page color ads. I also noticed that each pharmaceutical ad was two full pages:

* Page one — the actual full-color ad.
* Page two — the full-page disclosure that generally appears on the back of the page of the color ad

This suggests each drug company buys two pages per month for an average cost per thousand of $61. WOW. | Read full article

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Can Apple Jump-Start Internet Movie Rentals?

From The New York Times - The iTunes movie rental announcement at Macworld Expo underscores that this is among the hot categories right now. It’s part of an earnest and chaotic attempt by consumer electronics companies to both bring Internet content to the living room and to get themselves into the process and profit it from it.

This is the Set-Top Box Generation. Everyone’s got an entry and consumers, while they may ultimately benefit, are left to figure out what to choose — how to hook up, whether and when to jump in. | Read full article

Video Podcasts: The Sleeping Giant on AppleTV

From The New York Times - While Steve Jobs talked for a long time Tuesday at Macworld Expo about the movie rental feature of iTunes and Apple TV, he spent only a short time demonstrating its capabilities for podcasts. In fact, the ability of Apple TV to view podcasts may in the long run be its most important feature.

“Huh,” you say, thinking that podcasts are Wayne’s World run amok. But in Apple’s world, podcasts are any free video and audio programs. They are usually organized as a series to which you can subscribe, but you can also choose one program at a time. | Read full article

Monday, January 7, 2008

No More New Things From Microsoft

From The New York Times - In an era when the vanguard of technology is creating smart devices for entertainment and communications, Bill Gates, the outgoing chairman of Microsoft, had little that was interesting or innovative to show off in his last annual keynote at CES in Las Vegas on Sunday.

The headline from the speech was a series of partnerships to bring some movies and television programming both to Xbox and to MSN. At best, this is more of the same. Xbox and MSN already offer video content. And the studios in the announcement — Disney, NBC Universal and MGM — already distribute their content digitally on other services. At best, this is a footnote completing a deal that was obvious. Apple, by contrast, regularly announces deals with Hollywood that offer new content and new terms for users (think 99-cent songs, and then music without copy protection.) | Read full article

Sunday, January 6, 2008

U.S. Album Sales Fell 9.5% in 2007

From The New York Times - Album sales in the United States plunged 9.5 percent last year from 2006, as the recording industry had another weak year despite a 45 percent surge in the sale of digital tracks, according to figures released Thursday.

A total of 500.5 million albums in the form of CDs, cassettes, LPs and other formats were purchased last year, down 15 percent from the unit total for 2006, said Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks point-of-purchase sales.

The decline in album sales drops to 9.5 percent when sales of digital singles are counted as 10-track equivalent albums. | Read full article

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Noontime Web Video Revitalizes Lunch at the Desk

From The New York Times - In cubicles across the country, lunchtime has become the new prime time, as workers click aside their spreadsheets to watch videos on YouTube, news highlights on CNN.com or other Web offerings.

The trend — part of a broader phenomenon known as video snacking — is turning into a growth business for news and media companies, which are feeding the lunch crowd more fresh content.

In some offices, workers coordinate their midday Web-watching schedules, the better to shout out punch lines to one another across rows of desks. Some people gravitate to sites where they can reliably find Webcasts of a certain length — say, a three-minute political wrap-up — to minimize both their mouse clicks and the sandwich crumbs that wind up in the keyboard. | Read full article

Friday, January 4, 2008

Nokia predicts 25% of entertainment by 2012 will be created and consumed within peer communities

From Nokia - Nokia identifies Circular Entertainment as a coming trend as consumers get collaborative

Espoo, Finland -- Up to a quarter of the entertainment consumed by people in five years time will have been created, edited and shared within their peer circle rather than coming out of traditional media groups. This phenomenon, dubbed 'Circular Entertainment', has been identified by Nokia as a result of a global study into the future of entertainment.

The study, entitled 'A Glimpse of the Next Episode', carried out by The Future Laboratory, interviewed trend-setting consumers from 17 countries about their digital behaviors and lifestyles signposting emerging entertainment trends. Combining views from industry leading figures with Nokia's own research from its 900 million consumers around the world, Nokia has constructed a global picture of what it believes entertainment will look like over the next five years.

"From our research we predict that up to a quarter of the entertainment being consumed in five years will be what we call 'Circular'. The trends we are seeing show us that people will have a genuine desire not only to create and share their own content, but also to remix it, mash it up and pass it on within their peer groups - a form of collaborative social media," said Mark Selby, Vice President, Multimedia, Nokia. | Read full article

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Online Display Ad Market To Hit $8.6 Billion, Yahoo Will Dominate

From Online Media Daily - GET READY TO PAY MORE for both premium and remnant display ad inventory. JP Morgan is forecasting the U.S. graphical ad market to hit nearly $8.6 billion this year--a 20% increase from 2007, with much of that cash flow being driven by costlier CPMs. What's going to fuel the price spike? According to analyst Imran Khan, the 4% growth in CPMs will stem from a cocktail of factors, including less abundant (and possibly devalued) offline inventory, improvements in behavioral and geographical targeting, and the increased use of ad exchanges.

Khan said that local broadcast and cable inventory will be "tight" in 2008, as presidential campaign ads will absorb many of the available spots, and the increasingly scattered TV market will contribute to more ad dollars shifting online. And we expect newspapers to continue to bleed circulation and ad revenues to the Web.

Meanwhile, Web publishers will get better at monetizing their inventory via improved targeting, migration to ad exchanges and sites like social networks increasing the number of ads per page. In 2007, some 83% of graphical inventory was sold for less than $1/CPM, according to Khan--so if a publisher improves its yield even by a few cents, it can have a tremendous impact on revenues. | Read full article

Scripps Launches Web Site For Shuttered Newspaper

From Media Daily News - IN WHAT MAY BE A first for American newspapers, a new Web site is being launched to continue the reporting of an expired print newspaper--The Kentucky Post, closed by E.W. Scripps at the same time as its sister publication, The Cincinnati Post. In another twist, the new Web site--KYPost.com--will be hosted by WCPO-TV, a Scripps television property in Cincinnati, drawing heavily on the station's video news for online content. The ad-supported site will focus on breaking local news, traffic advisories, sports scores and schedules, and weather in northern Kentucky communities, including user-generated content. It will be directed by managing editor Kerry Duke, previously the project editor for the paper's print edition. | Read full article

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

In Restless Pursuit of Craigslist’s Success

From The New York Times - MICROSOFT tried. Google tried. Now it’s eBay’s turn to see if it can dethrone the Web’s most spectacularly successful underdog, Craigslist.

The Kijiji unit of eBay, a free classified ads service covering 13 countries online, was introduced in the United States in late June, and has already achieved modest success in some important markets, including New York. Its vice president and general manager, Jacob Aqraou, said it would market itself far more aggressively in 2008, and was further refining its service in hopes of putting a dent in Craigslist’s huge market-share lead. | Read full article

On eBay, Some Profit by Selling What’s Free

From The New York Times - While scouring eBay for interesting Christmas presents a while back, I found and bought a DVD of a film made in 1954 about my home town of Doylestown, Pa. After it arrived I went searching for more information about it — and found the entire film, available as a free download from the nonprofit Internet Archive.

It turned out that the eBay seller had simply downloaded the movie file, burned it onto a DVD and stuck it in the mail. And he was doing the same with a wide range of other public-domain material: military truck manuals from World War II, PowerPoint presentations on health matters from government doctors, vaudeville shorts from the late 1800’s. | Read full article

Netflix Partners with LG to Bring Movies Straight to TV

From The New York Times - Netflix, the DVD-by-mail company with more than 7 million customers, has a new strategy that may one day make those red envelopes obsolete.

The company wants to strike deals with electronics companies that will let it send movies straight to TV screens over the Internet. Its first partnership, announced Wednesday night, is with the South Korean manufacturer LG Electronics to stream movies and other programming to LG’s high-definition televisions.

The partnership will extend a novel feature from Netflix, announced a year ago, that allows paying subscribers to watch any of 6,000 movies and television shows on its Web site free. But that service can only be accessed with a personal computer.

Reed Hastings, chief executive of Netflix, said he hoped to strike other such deals and that Netflix would soon be viewed as a movie channel that might appear on a myriad of devices. | Read full article

Web Playgrounds of the Very Young

From The New York Times - Forget Second Life. The real virtual world gold rush centers on the grammar-school set.

Trying to duplicate the success of blockbuster Web sites like Club Penguin and Webkinz, children’s entertainment companies are greatly accelerating efforts to build virtual worlds for children. Media conglomerates in particular think these sites — part online role-playing game and part social scene — can deliver quick growth, help keep movie franchises alive and instill brand loyalty in a generation of new customers.

Second Life and other virtual worlds for grown-ups have enjoyed intense media attention in the last year but fallen far short of breathless expectations. The children’s versions are proving much more popular, to the dismay of some parents and child advocacy groups. Now the likes of the Walt Disney Company, which owns Club Penguin, are working at warp speed to pump out sister sites. | Read full article

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