Good morning, it's Wednesday, April 6, 2011, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis edition online, click here.
The Federal Trade Commission is considering launching a major antitrust investigation into Google's dominance in the lucrative search market on the scale of the Microsoft probe conducted a decade ago, according to a Bloomberg report, citing two unnamed sources. There have been no shortage of complaints from competitors regarding the company's business practices both here and in Europe, most recently by rival Microsoft. The report says that the FTC would wait and see if the Justice Dept. is going to allow Google to purchase flight software firm ITA Software before launching a larger probe.
Dish Network announced a deal with the new pay TV service EPIX, a joint venture of Paramount Pictures, MGM, and Lionsgate, to offer access to more than 3,000 films and programs via authentication-required TV Everywhere portal DishOnline. Dish Platinum customers, who must pay an additional $10/mo for a package of 22 premium channels including EPIX, will get access to films such as Iron Man 2 and Shutter Island for no extra charge.
Hulu is on track to gross $500 million in revenue in 2011 as Q1 sales were up 90% over the same quarter last year, according to a blog post from CEO Jason Kilar. The portal grew its content partners from 211 to 264 during the same period, including the addition of Viacom's cable brands. Premium subscription service Hulu Plus is on track to top 1 million subscribers this year.
March Madness On Demand visits increased by 63% overall year-over-year across all platforms, according to Turner and CBS Sports, drawing a daily ave. of 1.9 million visitors via broadband (+16%) and 683k daily visitors via mobile apps. The tournament garnered 13.7 million total hours of streaming video consumed through MMOD online and iPad and iPhone apps, a 17% increase over 2010. An amazing 30% of all streams for MMOD from Selection Sunday through the Championship were from iPad and iPhone apps.
More digital Royal Wedding Coverage:
Online discount site LivingSocial has raised another $400 million in capital from both existing investors such as Amazon and Lightspeed Venture Partners as well as new ones including T.Rowe Price and Institutional Venture Partners, reports the NYTimes. The latest round brings the Groupon rival, which has raised its subscriber total to 26 million, to a valuation of more than $3 billion.
President Obama, who officially launched his re-election bid on Monday, is making an appearance at the headquarters of Facebook in Palo Alto on April 20 in a Town Hall gathering, fielding questions posed by Facebook users. Of course the event will be streamed live on the site's Facebook Live platform.
Would-be online video writers are encouraged to submit their guy-targeted spec scripts (3-4 pages only) for a new Break Media contest being conducted with Scripped.com. Submissions will be judged by Seven De Souza and Ed Burns and five finalists will receive a cash prize of $500. The grand-prize winner will be given the opportunity to have his or her script realized as an original video produced by the Break Media Creative Lab.
Tech-themed podcast network TWiT.tv announced it will be streaming live from NAB next week with hosts Leo Laporte, Lisa Bettany, Kirk Harnack, Alex Lindsay, Paul Thurrott and Scott Wilkinson.
White label video ad platform AdGenesis announced the launch of the first opt-in video advertising service for mobile phones. Through its sister company Beezag.com, users can opt-in to watch videos spots from brands that they are most interested in, accumulate points and earn rewards directly from brands that can be redeemed for special offers.
Ad planning software maker Invision is announcing support of Canoe Ventures' iTV offerings through its DealMaker ad system. Canoe, the major MSO-backed venture to standardize iTV solutions such as a request-for-information tag, is now up and running in 18 million homes across the 18 of the top 25 DMAs.
Google announced it will now offer free phone support to AdWords advertising customers in the U.S. and Canada, when an email just isn't fast enough. AdWords operators are standing by M-F from 9am to 9 pm ET.
Sprint Nextel may beat its competitors to the punch by being the first U.S. carrier to launch a near field communications payment network that allows users to pay for things at retail stores by waving their phones, reports Bloomberg. AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon announced near-field communications joint venture last year but it's not expected to launch until 2012.
That didn't take long. On behalf of six major movie studios, the MPAA has filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against recently launched movie streaming start-up Zediva. The site enables users to a rent a DVD player they virtually control online and rent new release movies at $2 each or 10 for $10.
Apple stock may be adversely affected by a decision by the Nasdaq stock exchange to "rebalance" the Nasdaq 100 index to put less emphasis on the consumer electronics giant. Apple will now make up 12.33% of the index, down from a 20.49% share.
The number of U.S. mobile subscribers watching video on their mobile devices rose more than 40% year-over-year in both the third and fourth quarters of 2010, according to a new Nielsen report, ending the year at nearly 25 million people. Users watched an ave. of four hours and 20 minutes of mobile video per month in both the third and fourth quarter of 2010--a 33% and 20% year-over-year increase in each quarter, respectively.
USA Network introduced a new free check-in app for iOS and Android devices around the upcoming wrestling-themed reality series WWE Tough Enough. Fans will be encouraged to network with other fans and check-in through different intervals of the show to unlock exclusive content and rack up "Tough Club Points" they can redeemed for rewards.
Kimberly Lau, formerly Executive Director of Business Development and Partnership Relations for Hearst Magazines Digital Media, has been promoted to VP. She will oversee the digital division's business development, partnership relations and syndication deals, reporting to John Loughlin, EVP and GM of Hearst Magazines.
Virtual goods purveyor Virtual Greats has promoted two managers to executive positions in its LA and San Francisco offices: In Los Angeles, Megan Bycel has been promoted to VP/Product Management. Brett Orlanski has been upped to VP/Business Development, based in San Francisco. Lilia Madden has been promoted to Product Manager in the company's LA office.
A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM ACADEMY OF TELEVISION ARTS & SCIENCES
Nickelodeon (Neopets, PetPet Park) is betting big on its latest digital creation, a Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG) 2+ years in the making called Monkey Quest, developed with Behaviour Interactive. Cobble together a group of 4 friends and explore the mythical land of Ook ruled by, you guessed it, monkeys. It's designed for kids in the 8-12 yr old range but its console-quality game play and extensive universe (50 levels and counting) is bound to attract a diverse lot. There's a version you can play for free but only a $10/mo or $80/year subscription will unlock access to all additional trials, quests and virtual goods that typically become more prevalent as a player advances. It will be interesting to see how successful this one is - Nick is pulling out all the marketing stops that began with on-air ads during the Kids Choice Awards and followed with ads on sites such as AddictingGames.com. There's even a movie-quality trailer to put on your blog.
Later - Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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JOB OPENING: VP, NAT'L SALES/ION/Chicago: 8-10 yrs TV sales mgt, Deg, exp w/network sales, budgets, must have established client base . MS Office. EOE Full Ad http://www.ionmedianetworks.com/page.php?p=careers&job=1280 (4/13)
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