The search for iTV on BusinessWeek
TV is about instant gratification. The Net is about me having control. Put the two together, and the result should be personalized TV, or iTV, which lets me watch what I want, when I want it,” explains Business Week in a cover story about how TV and the Internet are intersecting, and how far we still are from having truly personal TV.
Hollywood worries digital downloads could lead consumers to stop buying $24 billion of DVDs annually, and broadcasters are nervous about the fate of the $185 billion-per-year TV advertising kit. So studios and networks alike limit how long programs are available on Web sites or restrict the shows that play on various devices.
Cable and satellite providers worry that they will lose customer loyalty to the Web, so they impose tight controls on what content you see and moved painfully slowly to offer advanced TV services.
Most regular people still haven’t viewed their first TV clip on a computer screen. But a survey shows that 16% of American households with Web access now watch full TV broadcast online, double the number from a year ago. Meantime, in Hong Kong some 60 % of all households watch programming delivered over the Internet to the TV.
NBC launches download service… disappointing everybody
NBC.com had launched NBC Direct, a new service that allows users to download full episodes of selected shows to their computer to watch anywhere.
It doesn’t work with Mac, Firefox, or even Windows Vista, and you have 48 hours to view them. If you live outside the U.S., sorry, NBC Direct is not international. So far NBC Direct got pretty negative reviews.
The evolution of the traditional TV
Current TV, Al Gore backed channel, is moving to a crowd-controlled TV. Since mid-October, visitors to its Web site have been able to watch everything that was on the channel in the previous two hours or what’s coming in the next two, leave comments on the shows, engage in discussions on videos, put up links to other sites, or add raw video to a story. Users can even click on an assignment tab to see if a producer needs extra reporting.
Current claims that more than 70% of its viewers have a laptop open while they watch the TV channel, giving them a means to participate.
In terms of business model, Current is not focusing on bringing shows direct to the Net. Current is profitable being paid for its content by cable and satellite TV outfits, just like ESPN and Nicklelodeon.
A video player with exceptional searching abilities
Internet Broadcasting has launched a new video player (still in beta), which does have exceptional searching abilities. Clicking search shrinks the 16x9 video window and it continues playing while search results are displayed below.
As more professionally produced content comes online, user-generated video is becoming less interesting to viewers, and accordingly, advertisers. This is what Business Week points in an article.
“People would rather watch content that has production value than watch their neighbors in the garage”, says CEO of VideoEgg.
ManiaTV recently canceled its user generated channels altogether, saying the 3,000 channels didn’t pull in enough viewers and that 80 percent of the users were going to professional content that featured celebrities. Sony’s Grouper.com in July relaunched as Crackle.com, focused only into professional-grade programming.
A research of Burst Media, an Internet ad network, says that viewers are most interested in news videos, followed by movie trailers, comedy sketches, music video, and TV shows. The category that includes clips produced by users placed ninth out of 11.
More and more Hollywood produced clips
Hollywood is flooding the Web with new shows produce specifically for the Net, along with behind-the-scenes content and DVD-like extras of television shows. Original made-for-the-Web series are Quaterlife, Prom Queen, and KateModern.
Traditionally advertisers have been reluctant to trust the user-generated stuff. They feel better aligned with the professional stuff, and that boast that new Web-series. Blinkx’s CEO says advertisers will pay $60-plus per 1,000 views to incorporate their ads alongside professional video content, and they will pay around $7 to associate with user generated videos.
Therefore landscape dominated by user-generated video is turning into one where the most watched content is largely professionally produced.
True opportunities to transform the way companies communicate
By 2011 the revenues for online multimedia business communications technology will grow to $1.1 billion from its 2006 level of $282 million, according to Interactive Media Strategies consulting firm.
The forecast total covers the spectrum of technologies that are needed to make online multimedia presentations a business reality, from content-creation and editing tools to encoding servers and network distribution gear.
”As executives use the technology more frequently, budgets will grow to allow higher-quality tools and services in support of business multimedia,” says this company.
In his view, Cisco is the big game game-changer that looms on the horizon. Its $3.9 billion acquisition of web collaboration king WebEx earlier this year gives Cisco a major platform for pushing a new breed of hosted video services into the mainstream of corporate America by 2009-2010.
SyncTV brings a la carte TV: only pay the channels you want to watch
A new Internet TV service called SyncTV will compete with companies as Joost, Babelgum, and Vuze, as well as paid-for video download stores as iTunes or Amazon Unbox, or even cable TV. SyncTV will allow people to subscribe to a specific channel and watch any program from it, so viewers pay only for the channel they want to watch. The service will cost $2 - $4 per channel a month, and will be offered in home-theater quality (DVD quality).
The service will provide access to content from computers, set-top boxes, game consoles, and other electronic devices, even specially-equipped TV sets. But no more detail is available. It will be available in the first half of 2008.
A la carte approach sounds interesting, but there are a lot of places to watch shows you miss. There is Hulu, NBC Direct, the ABC, CBS, Fox, CW’s network streaming sites, iTunes, Amazon Unbox, Joost…
The three major British terrestrial TV networks –the BBC, ITV and Channel 4- announced last month an initiative, knows as Kangaroo, to develop a combined service for accessing their on-demand services.
Brightcove cancels consumer uploads to its online TV service
Brightcove is changing positions and refocusing to the professional market. After December 17, Brightcove won’t allow consumer uploads to its service. Videos already uploaded to BrightcoveTV will remain available on the site, and videos already embedded will also continue to play.
Videos go interactive
Check out this video clip for a song from the Neon Bible music band. This could be the beginning of a new genre of music videos and even all kind of videos. By placing the mouse-over and clicking, you can control the action of the artist’s hands and other objects on the screen.
Watching full-length TV program online is increasingly popular, say some studies. Nielsen notes that ABC.com (50 percent), NBC.com (41), CBS.com (37), and Fox.com (24) were the most watched, with other Internet-based alternatives YouTube (17) and iTunes (15) used less often.
However, old television is still the preferred delivery platform, with 70 percent of Internet user saying they watch TV online because they missed an episode on television. Some watch a show on TV, then watched it again on the Internet.
Flash Media Server drastically reduces its price
Adobe will release Flash Media Server 3 in January 2008, and it will be come in three versions, ranging from free to $4,500 –a price drop of 90 %. The drastically reduced price, from its cost-prohibitive endeavor (up of $45,000 per license) is the most striking change to Flash Media Server. This high price led many to seek out alternative media servers like the open source Red5. (It supports multi-user video chat, video streaming and real-time, multiplayer gaming).
The developer version that supports up to 10 concurrent users, will be offered for free. And for single server deployments, the $995 version should be sufficient and could be attractive for smaller media publishers.
In addition to the Flash Media Server 3, Adobe also announced Flash Player 9 update that supports the more efficient and open industry standard H.264 codec. It is available as a free download in this address. Adobe Flash Player content reaches over 99 percent of Internet-enabled desktops.
Online video usage on the up
Nearly 75 percent of U.S. Internet users watched videos online, and the average viewing time per-month is three hours, according to the lastest comScore Video Metrix report.
In July 2007, Google/YouTube leaded the market (67.8 million users, 37.6%), with Fox/MySpace in second place (35.8 million users, 19.9%), followed by Yahoo Sites, Times Warner Network, Viacom Digital, Microsoft, Disney Online, ESPN, MLB.com, Photobucket.com, Veoh.com, and Comcast Corporation.
The average online video viewer consumed 68 videos, or more than two per day, and the average online video duration was 2.7 minutes –evidence that in terms of watching video in a web browser, short-form content is key.
Hiring a Content Delivery Network
When hiring a CDN to serve video from multiple locations in the U.S., and Europe or Asia, a lot of firms are signing contracts at higher rates than they should.
Two years ago Akamai was the only big player for certain-sized deal as 100TB a month, but today there are more options for video content delivery, like Limelight Networks, Internap, Mirror Image, CDNetworks, EdgeCast, or Panther Express (who, by the way, undercuts all the CDNs out there on pricing, supporting only HTTP delivery, not content delivered via streaming media protocols).
In many cases, Akamai is still getting paid twice what the going industry rate is for charging customers on a monthly per-gigabyte-delivered model.
These are some figures of prices in the last year.
- 1TB: High $2.00/GB, Low $1.50/GB
- 5TB: High $1.60/GB, Low $0.95/GB
- 10TB: High $1.20/GB, Low $0.89/GB
- 20TB: High $0.95/GB, Low $0.75/GB
- 50TB: High $0.50/GB, Low $0.40/GB
- 100TB: High $0.24/GB, Low $0.15/GB
Above 100TB, it could be as low as $0.12GB
Lecture-capture software for students who study during a commute
Students who miss an important point have a second chance. Some universities, like the Universtiy of Central Florida, offer their students lectures to their laptops or MP3 players. According to an article in the New York Times, at least two companies (Tegrity and Echo360) sell software to universities and other institutions that index every word shown on the computer screen during lectures in a database and syncs them with the digital images used during the talk –usually PowerPoint slides and animations.
Those lectures are stored on a server so that students can retrieve them and replay the content anywhere on their iPod or other devices. Students can locate the exact spot they want just typing in key words doing a search.
Fees of Tegrity –used at 90 institutions- are based on the number of students, and annual fees typically run $25,000 to more than $100,000. Echo360 charges universities $10,000 for an annual site license for audi-only podcasts, and $20,000 for enhanced podcasting with visuals. A new $50,000 podcasting service that includes dynamic displays like computer animations will be launched next month.
Founders of Brightcove, Jeremy Allaire and Adam Berry, have written a “state of the industry” report with some online video predictions for 2008. Like these ones:
- To date the advertising focus has been on monetizing video streams, but is this shortsighted. Content owners should develop audience-centric strategies, looking for new ways to blend ad formats, insertion policies, and targeting tactics across pages, short-form video clips, long-form shows, and open distribution. Audience monetization strategies will deliver greater yield and a much better user experience, and better sustainability.
- The last 12 months saw an explosion in video publishing across a wide array of website. Video is becoming so pervasive that if you have a web property without video something is wrong with it.
- 2007 has been the year of Internet TV Platforms, which give media owners the ability to control how video is published on their own sites and syndicated across the Internet. Essentially, platforms enable website publishers and content owners to build their own online properties, syndicate video and monetize their contents. Platforms make it possible for contents owner to build their own branded websites and control their own distribution and destiny.
- In 2008 we will have an Internet video market divided in two major groups: platforms and aggregators (like consumer sharing sites, commercial video portals, social networks).
- Consumer video sites (YouTube, Metacafe, Veoh, DailyMotion as dominant forces) try to leverage their traffic into meaningful distribution opportunities, though there are no major success stories in terms of revenue. Some of the 2006 players have been shut-down and others are on the chopping block. Commercial video portals as MSN Video, AOL, Yahoo TV, MySpace TV, Hulu, Comcast/Fancast, and desktop clientes like VeohTV, Adobe Media Player, Joost, Bablegum, are emerging. They use a 90/10 or 80/20 revenue split model with content owners. Social networks like FaceBook, MySpace, Bebo and iGoogle aggregate much traffic, and they will compete with consumer video sites and commercial video portals.
- Most of platforms operate in a business model that is almost always built around charging for usage of their service in one way or another. Community platforms like KickApps, Ning, Prospero, and Pluck allow build branded destinations with deep community features including profile pages, comments, ratings, blogs, forums, and chats. They let thousand of destinations develop around specific interests, topics, niches and brands, and are largely complementary to Internet TV platforms, and many customers can use both.
- More 2008 trends:
Media companies and new start-ups will continue to build successful branded destinations so they can control the access to audiences. They will offer consumers a more focused and differentiated experience, including exclusive content, and by giving advertisers a better environment to build their brands.
Content owners will continue to develop distribution strategies, seeking wider distribution, in most cases with advertising attached. They will try to bridge the gap between aggregators and their own branded destinations.
The explosive growth that has happened with the major network episode players, and the increasing access that consumers have to long form, high-quality video will push Internet TV closer to traditional broadcast TV, with full-screen, immersive experience.
What are video sites getting for CPMs? On the high end are niche sites for business leaders from WSJ.com and the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, selling video ads for $90 CPM on their video pre-rolls.
On the other end are video ads on sites that focus on user generated content, with sites like MetaCafe.com asking for $10 CPM - $35 CPM, depending on placement. The rate card for pre-roll, and home page sponsored video units is $35. The rate card for overlay ads is $20, and a static companion ad runs from $10 to $20.
MySpace is asking for $25 CPM on their video pre-rolls with a 300x250 pixel ad unit. Web video ads offered are pre-roll, mid-roll, 5 second pre-roll bumpers, banners and display ads.
YouTube requires a minimum of $50,000 spend within 90 days. On brand channels, advertisers must spend $250,000 across Google and YouTube, including $100,000 or more on YouTube only. A YouTube home page roadlock is a $100,000 per day flat fee plus a $100,000 incremental spend on Google and YouTube within 90 days. Companies wanting to advertise on YouTube for less can sign up for Google AdWords for as little as a $1 CPM. YouTube has an ad guide.
This site WebVideoReport has done a study that shows the range of pricing for different sites.
Viral marketing campaigns multiplying
Viral marketing campaigns are multiplying since advertisers are finding alternative ways to reach distracted consumers more and more used to new technologies liked TiVo, DVRs, and iPods. Traditional types of advertising like commercials are perceived as passive and intrusive, and consumers decide to come to video websites, visiting contents when they want, and staying as long or as briefly as they want.
”The Internet has turned people into active seekers, active diggers,” said Philips Electronics North America, which has sponsored viral campaigns like shaveeverywhere.com.
This site and others, like The Harry Situation.com intended to promote Garnier products and developed by Avenue A/Razorfish, have become buzz factor.
Young amateur journalist will post video in the AP’s network
MTV has recruited 51 young amateur journalists, one from each state, to cover the 2008 elections. Their reports will consist of blog entries, videos, photos, audio podcasts, and animation, and will appear on Think.MTV.com . Also, their video will be posted on the 1,800+ sites in the AP’s Online Video Network.
The MTV “Stream Team” will be geared up with laptops, video cameras and mobile phones. MTV is already working with MySpace/News Corp. on a series of televised and webcast dialogues with presidential candidates.
iPhone version is another way to navigate
CBNews is the latest site to add a specially designed version for the iPhone, the trendy gadget of the year. This iPhone version is better to navigate than the regular versions. Facebook, Google & others have already fired up customized version.
MSNBC.com launches new video player
MSNBC.com has unleashed a new video player, which uses Flash (hey, Microsoft, what happened with Silverlight?). The player screen is roomy, measuring 600 pixels wide. While a clip is playing, related links display along the bottom of the player. Amazingly, embeddable video clips and search are not still available. In terms of advertising, it appears the new player is following the same approach as MSN Video, which is one pre-roll for every three minutes of use.
A widget to watch live television
LabPixies has developed a cool widget that allows you to watch an array of TV stations on your home page. LabPixies TV has hundreds of TV stations, many submitted by users. To use it, simply browse through the TV stations selection and click any you want.
These days almost everyone has a YouTube channel. Now Queen Elizabeth II along with the rest of British Monarchy has just launched a channel on YouTube. It is called The Royal Channel. It features 19 videos right now, mostly archive footage. Front is the Queen’s 1957 Christmas message –the first time that was televised (865,000+ views), and 2007’s Christmas greetings (608,000+ views). Adding comments feature has been disabled, so people cannot comment on that.
“If you look through the years, the queen’s always kept up to date with changes in technology,” a spokeswoman for Buckingham Palace said. In fact, the monarchy has had its own Website for the last decade, and the queen made her Christmas message available as a podcast for the first time two years ago.
UGC and mobile revolution has only begun
To have a mobile and User Generated Content (UGC) strategy is really important. “State of the Media Democracy” new media survey, from Deloitte & Touche, says this: 38 percent of U.S. consumers are watching TV shows online, 36 percent use their cell phones as entertainment and 45 percent are creating content like Websites, music, videos and blogs for others. Roughly it means an increase of 50 percent in the eight months.
The Internet video when the TV breaks down
Nothing new to watch on TV or on your DVR due to screen writers strike? Try the Internet. A news blog has suggested a long list of TV shows, webisodes, video games, poscasts…
Blogging is high return marketing tool
Blogging could be a low-cost and high-return tool for small businesses, since it can handle marketing and public relations, raise the company profile and build the brand, says The New York Times in a recent article.
However, only 5 percent of businesses with fewer than 100 employees have blogs, according an American Express survey.
Obviously you have to creative because people don’t want to read a commercial. See for example this small company which makes organic chocolate snacks.