Web-based videos are increasingly transferred to the TV sets
Videos and movies are exploding on the Internet, but watching them on desktops, laptops or PDAs is far-away from big TV screens and comfortable furniture of the living room. Technology companies are beginning to change that, with major repercussion for the entertainment, media and advertising industries. They are using the Internet as a conduit for transmitting selected content, just as cable is a conduit for getting programming to the TV. They realize that the Internet opens the possibility of sending virtually unlimited content to the TV.
Last month, AT&T launched Homezone, a service that combines satellite TV provided by Dish Network with Internet content. The service currently offers over 1,000 Web-based movies provided by Movielink, the online film service. Later this year, Homezone, which is also a box designed to hook into a wireless home network, will add content assembled by Akimbo Systems Inc., with more than 13,000 titles, including programs from A&E, the Discovery Channel and hundreds of sports games.
Like AT&T, TiVo only make content available online after they make deals with its owners. Now TiVo has deals with about 10 content providers (from CNET.com to iVillage.com), and it\'s negotiating with numerous others.
Transferring Internet content to the TV promises to accelerate the growing popularity of Web-based videos, and opens up the possibility of vast new audiences. Think for example in user-generated videos of YouTube.com.
More content owners put their programs on the Web
Cable operators like Comcast Corp., the country\'s largest cable operator in terms of subscriber, is buying new technology and accumulating contents rights, trying to route Web-based content to TV themselves. \"We want to be in the vanguard of making Web-based video easy to use\", says Brian Roberts, Comcast\'s chief executive.
Now Internet-delivered video is far away from competing with traditional TV fare, partly because the amount of content is still limited. Besides that, most of the online content is of poor quality on a large TV, particularly in high-definition set. AT&T and TiVo assure picture quality by downloading content rather than streaming.
Meantime, more content owners are getting comfortable about putting their popular programs on the Web. This is a trend. Earlier this week AOL announced that it will sell downloads from programmers as MTV, Nickelodeon and Warner Brothers. During this year\'s Winter Olympics, NBC worked with Intel to deliver high-resolution content over the Web to TV sets and is now looking at numerous other uses.
The five big Japanese electronic companies seek standard for Internet TV
There has always been the question of whether computers were going to become like televisions, or televisions were going to become like computers. And the challenge for computer makers and consumer-electronics companies has been how people take control over the living room. Now consumers can buy monitors for their computers offering quality that matches that of high definition sets.
So in an attempt to fight off growing competition from the computer industry, Sony Corp, Matsuhita Electric Industrial, Sharp, Toshiba and Hitachi are developing a joint standard for Internet-connected televisions. The standard, intended to make it easier for content makers to produce material for viewing on televisions that link to the Web, is planned for aspects such as the operating system (which will be Linux, and will be available free to users), security, copyright protection and network connectivity.
The explosion of Internet video content is persuading people, especially young users, to spend more time with their computers and less time in front of their televisions. Besides that, tech companies such as Microsoft and Cisco Systems threat Japanese companies to steal the market launching products that bring Internet content to TV sets.
France channels public funds to create the next Google
Trying to fight what they call the \"omnipresence of the Anglo-Saxon culture\" on the Web and on the Media, the French government is channeling public funds to new ventures. The Internet search engine Quaero, backed by President Jacques Chirac, has received 90 million euros to rival Google. Online there\'s already Geoportail.fr, designed to compete with Google Earth, and Gallica, inspired by Google\'s library-indexing project.
Later this year, France 24 TV, which will broadcast international news (CNN, Fox style?) will go live. The Wall Street Journal says, and we agree, that if French and European leaders really want to foster the next Google, they might consider creating an stimulating business environment for local young entrepreneurs.
Covering live the upcoming Armageddon!
It is says people don\'t trust journalists. So take a look to the approach some cable news are doing to the Middle East crisis. They are looking into Armageddon! Here is the Daily Show wrap of how the news channels are covering the apparent upcoming apocalypse.
Google starts its ambitious plan to lead the coming video ads market
Many bloggers and web users are putting YouTube clips on their sites without reviewing if the content is copyrighted, and knowing that many of these clips are recorded from television programs without the owner\'s permission. Now Google and Viacom, one of the biggest creators of television programming, are trying to create a legitimate business model for this trend.
Google, who has an ambitious plan to become a big player in video advertising, has struck a deal to allow Web site owners to put video clips from Viacom, including SpongeBob and MTV\'s shows.
The clips will be accompanied by advertising; Google, Viacom and the site owners will divide the ad revenue, but Viacom will receive more than two-thirds of the revenue. Most of the other companies that are trying to build video advertising networks, like AOL, Brightcove and Rewer, are paying about half of the revenue to the content creator.
YouTube, the top-rated video site, is testing this revenue model
After the test with Viacom, which will start at the end of this month, Google will allow any video programmer to use its system to distribute programming with advertising. YouTube, which never has done regular payments to site owners, is testing the sale of advertising to accompany its videos.
Concerning ad formats, Google will put traditional television commercials before or after the clip, as well as somewhat less intrusive format like static images that appear on the screen.
The disease of modernity, the continuous partial attention
One of the diseases of our age is what the former Microsoft executive Linda Stone labeled \"continuous partial attention\". This malady of modernity happens when you are on the Internet or cellphone while also watching TV, typing on your computer (disclosure: as I\'m doing now) and answering a questions. That is, you are multitasking your way through the day, continuously devoting only partial attention to each act or personal.
Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times prestigious columnist points out that we have gone from the Iron Age to the Industrial Age to the Information Age to the Age of Interruption. \"All we do now is interrupt each other or ourselves with instant messages, e-mail, spam or cellphone rings. Who can think or write or innovate under such conditions? One wonders whether the Age of Interruption will lead to a decline in civilization -as ideas and attention spans shrink and we all get diagnosed with some version of Attention Deficit Disorder.\"
MTV to launch user-generated TV channel
At the beginning of September MTV Networks will launch in the U.S. and U.K. MTV Flux TV, a channel that will feature user-generated video clips and messages. Consumers will be able to choose which music videos are played on the channel, upload their own clips, send on-screen messages using cellphones and communicate with each other with each other. Now is in beta mode.
MTV Networks is the latest media giant to embrace the social networking craze and the first to adapt it to traditional cable TV programming. MTV hopes to capitalize among teenagers its 25-year-old brand. \"MTV is challenging the status quo in TV programming and transferring control directly to its audience,\" said Angel Gambino, vice president of commercial strategy and digital media for MTV Networks UK.
Watch your video iPod on a bigger portable screen
Unhappy with the tiny image displayed on your video iPod? Memorex will release in September its iFlip device, that connects to any iPod and reproduces small-screen images on an 8-inch monitor, with 480-by-234 pixel screen resolution.
It will cost about $200, and will be available through major electronic stores. It is thought for life on the road, since it has an integrated battery to provide five hours of working, and comes with dual headphone jacks.
Trends in old think versus new-think in the media world
The corporate media world is losing touch with their reality. They need a new way of thinking. Mark Glaser PBS columnist, new media expert, decided to go through trends in old-think versus new-think. \"The big companies are more concerned with prosecuting file-traders than helping create easy digital avenues for customers to get what they want when they want it\", writes.
Some examples, some scenarios:
Oldthink: Relying on mainstream media TV coverage to follow wars and conflicts.
Newthink: Reading bloggers or citizen journalists who are eyewitnesses to wars, or soldier bloggers who are participants and can share their own stories in words or video. Seeing photos from people with cameraphones at the scene.
Oldthink: Believing the major news organizations will always get big stories right, and not make any mistakes along the way.
Newthink: Following credible bloggers who can unearth Photoshopped photos from a war zone, mistakes in coverage or bias, and faked sources for stories in mainstream media articles.
Oldthink:Thinking professional editors are the only ones who can decide what the important stories are each day.
Newthink:Realizing we have the power to choose what’s important, whether through aggregation services such as Google News or people-powered news sites such as Digg or personalized sites such as My Yahoo.
Oldthink: Forcing people to register in order to read a news site or watch a video service, and then inundate them with targeted advertising.
Newthink: Letting people view a site without registering, and serve up targeted ads based on the interests of that person — a.k.a. behavioral advertising
Oldthink: Video services such as MTV Overdrive that limit the user base by requiring Windows PCs with the Internet Explorer browser.
Newthink: Video services such as YouTube that use technology such as Flash that doesn’t shut out Macs and Firefox web browsers.
Oldthink: Turning on car radios to hear the music or radio shows we enjoy.
Newthink:Getting satellite radio or plugging in portable MP3 players to our car stereos so we can listen to hundreds of commercial-free stations on satellite or thousands of podcasts downloaded from the Internet.
Oldthink:Using focus groups and customer surveys to learn what people want.
Newthink:Employing real-time feedback loops such as online forums, blog comments, and wikis to capture the input of people.
Here is Mark Glaser\'s brilliant column.
The Israeli Metacafe.com, a real threat for the YouTube leadership
YouTube has 19.6 million visitors, but Metacafe.com, an Israel-based video site that presents itself as the most advanced video sharing video community on the Internet, has 2.7 million, according to Nielsen Media Research. With $23 million in venture capital, Metacafe hopes to gain on San Mateo-based YouTube, which has become a cultural force with 100 million videos viewed very day. (YouTube is backed by $11.5 million from Sequoia Capital.)
Last month, Metacafe moved to the Bay Area. Founder and chief executive Arik Czerniak, 31, a former fighter pilot with the Israeli air force, has set up a 70-employee office in San Francisco, while his staff of 15 engineers will remain in Tel Avid.
Unlike YouTube, which deletes porn or other potentially offensive video, Metacafe uses volunteer editors to pick only the best clips for viewing. In addition it has what they call a family filter button that can be easily deactivated. The result is that they feature nude girls and more explicit adult content than YouTube. It has another advantage over its U.S. rival: a player that organizes and screens your videos offline.
Iran\'s presidential blog in a country with Internet censorhip
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has started his own blog, www.ahmadinejad.ir, written mostly in Arabic. His first posting told of his childhood, Iran\'s Islamic revolution, and the country\'s war with Iraq. The weblog includes a picture gallery of the President itselft, an RSS feed, and a poll asking if users think the US and Israel are trying to trigger a new world war. The US is described as \"Great Satan\".
The blog comes in a country where the Internet censorship is openly applied and the media is strictly controlled. Some suggest this blog is part of the search for a wider international audience, and intends to pose all the doubts about American policy.
People like killing time watching 20-30 minute shows on mobile
We have often assumed that people watching video on cellphones and other mobile devices only want very short clips, no more than 4 minutes. We were wrong. Global research studies found an appetite for 20-30 minute viewing of sitcoms, dramas and news. Think for example in commuters or lunchtime viewers.
So wireless carriers, broadcasters, handset manufacturers and content producers are betting that TV and video will become the next great mobile hotbed. The IDC research firm says that by 2010, about 24 million consumers representing 9.2% of U.S. cellular subscribers will watch TV or video on mobile handsets, up from about 7 million this year. Revenue will roughly quadruple and exceed $1.5 billion.
Mobile TV is still in its infancy
Technology is changing rapidly. In 2003 Sprint launched MobiTV, the video played at one or two frames a second. Now, 3G networks lets mobile operators bolster the quality of video available. Some programming is streamed live, though most consists of on-demand video clips.
Pricing is a question. Sprint charges $15 to $25 a month for a data plan that includes video. But for carriers to keep monthly fees reasonable, it\'s expected that consumers will have to tolerate advertising. Another big problem is battery life. It is expected that manufacturers launch phones that remind you to stop watching TV when the battery reaches 25 % of capacity.
After all, Mobile TV is still in its infancy. \"We absolutely understand we\'re in the early days and are maintaining a lot of irons in the fire around new things to see what people will do,\" says Jim Ryan, Cingular\'s vice president of consumer data.
CBS Evening News with Katie Couric live on your computer
CBS announced this week it will offer a live webcast on CBSNews.com of its evening news, beginning on September 5th with Katie Couric debut. CBS will become the first network to stream a daily news show. \"This is a groundbreaking development in making the program available to the largest possible audience,\" said Sean McManus, President, CBS News and Sports.
Users will be required to register. The newscast will also be made available on demand. Both will be free and advertised-supported. The network also announced a number of other new broadcast features that will be available online and on other platforms, including: \"Couric & Company\" daily blog; \"Eye to Eye\" daily video of extended newsmaker interviews; \"First Look with Katie Couric\" web-exclusive rundown of selected stories; and \"Katie Couric\'s Notebook\" podcast of one-minute look at a top story or issue.
People are choosing Flash Video. Another lost battle for Windows?
Adobe\'s latest stats show the high penetration of the Flash player. Windows Media is in the 95 % penetration range, but it comes pre-loaded on Windows computers. Meantime, Flash Player 7 shows over 95 % penetration.
Critics note that Flash 8 is not available on Linux, and Adobe is cutting the access to a growing future market. Also, same say the process is being driven by web developers, not consumers. If the content they want to view is in Flash, then they download the software. Adobe is using these penetration statistics as proof that the Flash Player really is as prevalent as everyone says it is.
Living the transition of the Internet to a fully multimedia environment
Video-related Internet traffic is doubling every 3-4 months, while popular video-oriented sites report even faster growth. Private and public company valuations, and corporate and venture capital investments have all reached new highs, and even ventures with unproven and unclear business models are attracting funding and buzz. The scene reminds of the peak of the dot-com boom. Is this boom real?
The reality is that we are living the transition of the Internet to a fully multimedia environment, the second generation of the Internet. It is \"the evolution of media from one-way to two-way, from mass to specific, and from mostly linear to mostly on-demand\", says Michael Gordon, co-founder and CEO of Limelight Networks, Inc.
Enormous biz opportunities
The old model of a captive viewer subjected to a stream of wanted or unwanted content is evolving into a relationship where content is accepted because is interesting, useful and desired by the user.
This wave of change will have profound influences on the producers and consumers of media content, and on the economic relationships among them. And it will create enormous business opportunities.
How much is YouTube? $1 billion? Seems so after Grouper\'s acquisition
This week Sony Pictures Entertainment announced the purchase of Grouper.com for $65 million, and as a result of this, some analysts put a price to YouTube, the online market leader. RadarResearch manager Aram Sinnreich said that he \"wouldn\'t be surprised to see YouTube receive a bid of $1 billion. Whether the company is worth it is another question.\"
Concerning Grouper transaction, the first big media acquisition of a user created video, Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton said: \"Many people in the Grouper community use Sony cameras and Sony Vaio computers to create videos. It makes sense to complete the circle by having Grouper be part of Sony.\" According to some analysts, Sony wants to capitalize on their own content and marry it with some user-generated content. Now Grouper makes up less than 1% share of video compared with YouTube\'s 43 %. (See article \"Post video comments on any video clip, the latest feature\").
A web TV channel to help everyone in video production and graphic design
Digital Juice Television (DJTV) is new Web-based Television Network dedicated to techniques, technology, tools and tips for video editors and graphic designers. Industry experts share their secrets along several programs.
It costs the viewer nothing: there is no sign up or subscription to pay. Every week they will treat focused topics. DJTV will be streamed even to iPod.
YouTube and MySpace attract 75 % of video searches; Google, only 7%
Where is Google when it is about empowering people to search video clips? It is easy: lost in the search ranking. According to Hitwise, in May 2006, YouTube.com and MySpace.com were the number 1 and number 2 video search and delivery sites, with 42 % and 24 % shares. Yahoo, MSN, and Google each has a video share under 10 %.
Google, the market leader in text search is only #5 in video, with less than 7% share. Two young companies, one less than two years old (YouTube) and one less than three years old (MySpace), togheter attracted more than three-fourths of video search and deliveries.
Video viral campaign of finger-ball got a big success for H.P.
One of the most successful viral campaign of the year has been based on FingerSkilz.tv video clips. This site was supposedly created weeks before the soccer World Cup by a bored young office worker. Later on Hewlett-Packard revealed that they were in charge of this campaign aimed to imbue H.P\'s laptops and PC\'s with some of the coolness associated with Apple.
FingerSkilz.tv featured some videos of a man\'s hand on a desk, using two fingers to perform soccer tricks with a paper made ball. The site attracted hundred of thousand visitors, prompted widespread discussions on blogs, and moved imitators to create and post their own finger-ball videos. (By the way, Hewlett-Packard forgot to disclosure that the tricks were computer-generated images).