Good morning, it's Wednesday, March 24, 2010, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Google is already feeling the effects of its decision to redirect traffic from its Chinese portal to the uncensored version of the site based in Hong Kong - a move sharply denounced by the Chinese government. Reports are surfacing that the government is already blocking certain sensitive searches made on the site related to politics and adult content. Meanwhile, the country's biggest wireless carrier China Mobile is threatening to cancel a deal to utilize Google search on its mobile browser, per the NYTimes. China Unicom is also reportedly holding back on launching a cell phone based on Google's Android operating system.
Blockbuster has struck a deal with Warner Bros. that will give its DVD rental service a 28-day head start for new releases over rivals Netflix and Redbox. Beginning with yesterday's new release The Blind Side and next Tuesday's Sherlock Holmes, Blockbuster's brick-and-mortar stores, its DVD-by mail service and its on demand streaming movie service will have first dibs, equal to the window of sell-through outlets like Best Buy and Wal-mart. Warner Bros. has struck deals recently with both Netflix and Redbox to delay their releases by 4-weeks from their retail window. This new agreement does not cover the company's recently expanded Blockbuster Express kiosk service, which has miles to go before catching up with Redbox's 20,000 kiosk footprint.
Sonic Solutions penned a deal with Warner Bros. Digital Distribution to distribute commercial-free standard and high-def TV episodes the day after they air on broadcast TV. Shows such a Fringe, Two and Half Men, The Bachelor and The Closer will be available to TV's connected to Sonic's Roxio CinemaNow tuners, priced mostly at $1.99 per episode.
Fake news online video network The Onion News Network is making the jump to the TV screen later this month on IFC's new "Always On. Slightly Off" programming block, which also includes The Whitest Kids U' Know, Arrested Development and Monty Python's Flying Circus. It's The Onion's second cable TV deal, following a pilot pick up by Comedy Central's for a show based on the Onion Sports Network.
Traffic to CBSSports.com's March Madness On Demand streaming video app continues to trend upward with over 8.7 million hours of video and audio streaming consumed through Sunday - up 35% y/y. Over 6 million uniques have watched video on the site.
MTV and VHI are tapping geolocation service foursquare to power a new social networking tool allowing viewers to friend and follow celebrities from their shows including VH1's The T.O. Show and MTV's The Hills. Both networks will feature on-air integrations with programming that show talent will take off air to offer insights into their cities in real time via foursquare, giving users the chance to earn programming-related badges and awards. Jersey Shore's DJ Pauly D will be the first MTV celeb to use the new "celebrity mode."
Following along with the geo-locating craze, mobiTeris' CrowdZone is a sports themed "mobile crowd network" that allows fans everywhere to use their iPhones to connect with each other and with their favorite teams. The app allows you to check live pro or NCAA sporting venues to connect with other fans and share comments, jeers or pictures. The app made its debut this week at a trio of NHL Carolina Hurricanes games, promoted via TV, radio, Facebook, and Twitter fan channels.
Streamy Award nominated web thriller Girl Number 9 has been picked up for international multiplatform international distribution by ContentFilm plc's Fireworks International. The company will be shopping the show at MIP-TV, along with Riese, Dimensions, Roger Corman's Splatter and Pink: The Series.
M Theory, Bunim-Murray Productions' digital arm, announced the launch of The Set List, a digital series featuring behind-the-scenes footage from SXSW Music Festival in Austin, TX. The 3-4 minute shorts will be featured as an exclusive on Dailymotion's SXSW hub.
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Break Media is announcing new partnerships with targeted internet advertising firms Blue Kai and eXelate this morning to offer more granular targeting and optimization capabilities to its advertisers. The technology will enable categories such as auto and travel to target customers who have demonstrated interest in specific products utilizing Break's range of display, video and custom ad units. Blue Kai maintains an online auction marketplace, pricing inventory based on demand while eXelate operates an ad exchange for behavioral targeting data.
Time Warner has emerged as the leading bidder for struggling movie studio MGM with a bid of up to $1.5 billion, reports Reuters. Incoming bids, also filed by Lions Gate Entertainment and Access Industries, have come in much lower than expected. The studio is strapped with some $3.7 billion in outstanding debt.
WiMax network provider Clearwire announced plans to expand coverage to Los Angeles, Miami, St. Louis, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake and Cincinnati later this year. The company also noted that its battery powered $140 "Clear Spot" device is compatible with Apple's upcoming iPad, suggesting that no internal integration with the iPad is planned. The 4G Clear network is now available in 27 markets with plans to reach 120 million people by the end of 2010.
Time Warner Cable in LA is helping to design NCTA's "My Word" broadband showcase at The Cable Show next month, developed to showcase cable's next-generation video, voice, high-speed data and wireless entertainment and information services.
Weeks before it's even available for purchase, Apple's iPad already matches Amazon's Kindle in terms of awareness and intent to purchase, according to a new survey of 2,176 internet users by ComScore. Overall, e-readers are generating much interest with between 58% and 69% of consumers aware of the top 5 devices. The Kindle was highest in terms of current device ownership at 6% of all internet users, followed by Sony Reader at 4%. The iPad rated highest in terms of consumers seriously considering purchase over the next three months at 15% of internet users, slightly above the Kindle at 14%. The iPad's appeal seems to revolves around its myriad of applications, with interested parties saying they'd use it to:
E-Reader Awareness and Purchase Intent - March 12-16, 2010
Percent of Respondents
Aided Researched Seriously
Awareness Online Bought Considered
Buying in Next
Amazon Kindle 65% 69% 6% 14%
Apple iPad 65% 66% 1% 15%
Barnes & Noble Nook 28% 63% 2% 10%
Sony Reader 39% 65% 4% 9%
Samsung Papyrus 11% 58% 1% 8%
Source: comScore, Inc., Total U.S. Internet Audience, n=2,176
Lifecasting site Justin.tv has finally come out with an iPhone app that allows users to view live video streams directly from the phone. The interface allows you to browse recommended shows, create playlists and chat with other users, although sharing via Twitter or Facebook is not offered. Live broadcasting from the app, added to rival UStream's Broadcaster app last Dec., is also not available, but Justin.tv is planning to add uploading functionality in later versions.
Bravo's reality series The Real Housewives of New York City is renaming its MMA award winning virtual viewing parties Talk Bubbles, allowing fans to comment and interact with cast members or one another live via Facebook or Twitter during the airing of each episode. Mobile users can also text PARTY to 27286 to participate.
Traditional Home magazine (circ. 4.2 million) is unveiling a new feature in its April issue enabling smartphone users to have interactive experiences around story content. The "Tip Clip" feature gives readers access to videos and websites featuring bonus tips and inspiration from leading interior designers and decorators as well as insights from the magazine's editors on new products for the home. Marketers including Scandia Home and KraftMaid participated in the inaugural "Tip Clip" series.
Msnbc.com has launched an iPhone app around Meet the Press, featuring shareable video clips and integration with Twitter allowing users to pose questions directly to new host David Gregory. Msnbc is also planning a BlackBerry version of the app to be released next month.
Hit Discovery show Mythbusters also has its own $3.99 IPhone app developed with Phunware, featuring more than 300 minutes of ad-free short-form video content including exclusive sneak peeks, outtakes and behind-the-scenes clips.
New York-based online video ad network Tremor Media has upped a pair of executives, promoting Nicole Aste to VP/Business Intelligence and Charles Parra to VP/Product Management. In his new role Charles will assume command of the company's product management function which will include both Publisher and Advertiser facing solutions.
Former Senior Account Manager at Google UK Simon Douglass has joined London-based online marketing agency atom42 as head of PPC.
Services like Twitter have underlined just how obsessed the online public is with what's absolutely current in the news and traditional media outlets have to adjust to this new paradigm. It's only been a couple of years since local TV station sites began to post breaking news stories on their sites instead of holding them for the 6 O'clock news. Now Minneapolis CBS affiliate WCCO has come up with a new timeline-themed site to allow user to track important stories as they come online. The Wire features a scrollable interface that allows you to pull up stories posted by WCCO staffers from yesterday or today, all way up to the blue or "now line." Color-coded dot tells you exactly when the story was posted, with green representing events, red signaling news and blue marking Tweets from folks within the newsroom. User-submitted stories are also being posted here. Cool forward and back buttons allow users to actually track the progress of a story as it develops throughout the day. The station is working on a Wire widget to place on the WCCO.com home page that will feature the latest headlines and drive viewers to the Wire site, according Director of New Media John Daenzer.
Later - Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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