A CYNOPSIS MESSAGE FROM WE tv
Cyn opsis: DIGITAL
Good morning, it's Wednesday, May 19, 2010, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
A German regulator based in Hamburg, the home of Google's European headquarters, has demanded that the company surrender the hard drives that contain users' private data it collected using cars equipped with Street View cameras, per the NYTimes. In an attempt at damage control amid growing outrage over the data collected since 2006, Google has offered to destroy the information through a third party and says it has already deleted data collected in Ireland at the behest of the Irish Data Protection Authority. EU privacy officials are not satisfied with the offer and reminded the company it could face legal action if it does not comply with its request. Google claims it did not discover that the data was being collected until German authorities requested an audit of its practices.
The next cable network to capitalize on the social gaming craze is ESPN. The network, which has already had success in casual gaming with its ESPN Arcade portal (416k ave. monthly uniques in 2009,) struck a 2-year deal with developer Playdom to launch a series of ESPN-branded games for social platforms beginning this fall. Playdom's current titles run on Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, Tagged and Hi5 and include Sorority Life and Mafia Wars clone Mobsters, recently released for Android devices.
The Cube Life is cable network TVOne's first original web series depicting the lives of young black professionals as they try to claw their way out of their cubicles and into their own offices. Ashley Grayson of TV One's Digital Media Group created the show, which has been picked up for a 10-webisode run.
San Francisco-based mobile phone security start-up Lookout has received $11 million in series B funding led by Accel Partners with Khosla Ventures with Trilogy Partnership also participating. Lookout has developed mobile security software for Android, BlackBerry and Windows Mobile phones.
"How To Re-Establish A Vodka Empire" is the latest original web series launched yesterday on Babelgum. The 24-part series follows the exploits of a young filmmaker who heads to the Ukraine to explore his ancestry. The shorts will be combined into a feature-length documentary that will shopped theatrically and has been picked for television by More4 in the UK.
Interactive advertising cable group Canoe Ventures has signed agreements with Comcast Networks, Discovery Communications, NBC Universal and Rainbow Media with the networks agreeing to launch Canoe-based national interactive TV advertising solutions. Once integrated, the networks can offer the Canoe's suite of standards-based ITV marketing solutions beginning with a "Request-for-Information" (RFI) app that enhances standard 30 second spots.
Broadband video site ESPN3.com (formerly ESPN360) introduced a new video ad format that combines pre-roll video with a takeover-style display ad, per Mediaweek. Automated software also enables the site to dynamically embed ads within live video events to increase the reach of big media buys.
Best Buy announced that its partnership with CinemaNow is set to go live this month. The retailer is embedding access to Sonic Solution's CinemaNow streaming movie service into select LG Blu-ray players and home theater systems. Best Buy signed a multi-year deal to license Sonic's on demand delivery technology and plans to offer the feature on other manufacturers' gear later this year.
Google has made a $68 million cash bid to acquire internet voice and video-communication company Global IP Solutions Holding AB. The Norwegian company would provide Google with technology to deliver high quality, real-time audio and video over an IP network.
Google also announced it is streaming the morning keynote presentations at the Google I/O developer's conference on YouTube., beginning at 9 am on Wed. and 8:30 am on Thur. The company is expected to unveil a partnership with Intel and Sony to roll out a new generation of IP-connected televisions that run on a version of Android.
Speaking of smart TVs, Rovi Corp. says several major MSOs expressed interest in its new next generation set-top box TotalGuide interface it demoed at the Cable Show last week. Keeping up with advances from third party set-top builders such as Tivo, the guide seeks to better integrate linear TV listings with DVR, VOD and IP-based content to provide a more seamless experience for the viewer. The company was surprised that operators were willing to support the integration of Over-the-Top video services such as Netflix or Amazon, according to Rovi VP/Marketing David Jordan. "Initial feedback told us not to raise the issue but when we got there, many expressed interest," he said. "Part of the appeal is that we can offer them control of the experience." Other features in the TotalGuide interface include a recommendation engine, the ability to search across categories and the availability of cast and crew data of all scheduled programming.
Overall web usage may have dropped during the warmer month of April but the number of uniques viewing online video increased 1.3% month-over-month to 133.5 million in April 2010, according to Nielsen. Among the top Web brands ranked by unique viewers, MLB.com was the fastest-growing month-over-month in April, increasing 83.4% as Baseball season began followed by Fox Interactive Media, which saw its user base grow by 39.7% and its total streams increase by 32% from March. The CBS Entertainment Network and Yahoo suffered m/m declines in total streams by 19.6% and 16.5%, respectively. Netflix's Watch Instantly service led all brands in terms of time spent per viewer in April averaging 427 minutes, followed by Hulu (253 min.) and lifecasting service Justin.tv (169.2). YouTube was 10th in this category with average viewer watching 94.4 minutes/month.
Top Online Brands ranked by Video Streams for April 2010 (U.S.)
Video Brand Total Streams (000) MOM Streams % Growth
YouTube 4,943,288 5.8%
Hulu 687,860 -2.8%
Yahoo! 204,086 -16.5%
MSN/WindowsLive/Bing 170,671 0.4%
Fox Interactive Media 133,942 32.1%
Turner Sports & Ent. Digital Network 133,712 -5.8%
Nickelodeon Kids & Family Network 129,337 -13.8%
MTV Networks Ent. & Games 118,81 21.8%
Facebook 116,397 11.8%
CBS Entertainment Network 115,885 -19.6%
Source: The Nielsen Company
Top Online Brands ranked by Time per Viewer for April 2010 (U.S.),
(250K Unique Viewer Minimum)
Video Brand Time per Viewer (min) MOM Time % Growth
Netflix 427.8 -0.3%
Hulu 253.3 -7.0%
Justin.tv 169.2 4.2%
Megavideo 164.8 17.5%
Youku 150.3 -58.2%
Stickam 147.2 -5.3%
Tudou.com 110 -32.7%
iG 103.7 17.3%
StageVU 103.5 7.6%
YouTube 94.4 0.7%
Source: The Nielsen Company
Panasonic has activated the Skype video calling service available on its 2010 line of VieraCast enabled HDTVs. (VieraCast is Panasonic's third party interactive app platform.) The service enables you to make Voice-Over-IP video calls to other Skype members for free from anywhere in the world (calling from a landline incurs charges.) In order to pull off the video part of the equation, you'll need Panasonic's Skype-enabled communication camera (the TY-CC10W), retailing for $170.
ESPN Mobile is working on its own version of Foursquare. The ESPN Passport app, due to launch in time for the World Cup, will allow fans to log in at live sporting events and upload photos and videos from the game to share with other friends on the platform. ESPN also announced it is developing a series of localized iPhone apps to go with its recently launched local websites. Fans in Dallas, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York (the apps will roll out in that order) can utilize the free apps to access breaking local news, blogs and tweets from local-based sportswriters, SportsCenter video clips, GPS-activated local weather updates and live digital audio feeds from local ESPN Radio stations.
Amazon, which already launched a Kindle iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry app, announced it is preparing one for Android, due out later his summer.
E! Entertainment Television is making on demand video available via the Web TV application on the new Nokia N8 Smartphone, unveiled earlier this month and scheduled to roll out beginning Q3 2010.
Latin music site Batanga.com launched a free iPhone/iPodTouch app enabling users to listen to their existing personalized or favorite radio stations as well as build new ones directly from the phone.
National Geographic Ventures (NGV) unveiled a new entity to create and manage new opportunities for content distribution and monetization. National Geographic Ventures International will be headquartered in London under the leadership of Maurice van Sabben who will serve as President. He will report to Edward Prince, COO of Washington, D.C.-based NGV.
Continuing with its new strategy to expand its original content offerings as cheaply as possible, Yahoo has agreed to acquire crowdsourced publisher Associated Content for $100 million - a Denver-based website that distributes articles from a network of some 380,000 freelancers and claims a readership of 16 million monthly uniques. Associated Content is one of a host of new digital publishers trying to reinvent the way writers, photographers and videographers get paid for their work online. (AOL's SEED content factory and the well-funded Demand Media are other examples.) Its secret sauce is a predictive algorithm that anticipates then commissions what consumers want to read about. AC displays predefined article titles allowing users to "claim" the assignment. All on-site assignments pay performance-based revenue while some also offer a small upfront payment. Of course, the quality of the work it produces is another issue, with some "assignments" paying as little as $5. Hopefully combining AC's network with Yahoo's larger audience and more advanced search tools can raise the stakes for both creators and consumers.
Clarification: Online cooking academy Top Chef Univ. mentioned yesterday was not created by Bravo digital (tho they do endorse it) - rather Top Chef Univ licensed the name.
Later - Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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