Good morning. It's Friday, July 27, 2012, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis editions online, click here.
Google held a presentation in Kansas City yesterday to showcase the residential Google Fiber pay-TV and/or internet service it plans to offer to consumers in the area.
First the internet service: Google says that it will offer upload and download speeds of up to 1000 megabits per second, which would make it as much as 100 times faster than the standard cable modem service. It will also come with one terabyte of storage on Google Drive and its own Network Box.
Then there's the Google Fiber TV service: It includes a lot of recognizable channels, including all broadcast channels and those from Viacom, NBCUniversal, Showtime, Starz, and Encore, but alas no HBO, Disney, ESPN, or AMC, among others. The service also offers interactive search so users can look for content on the DVR and on video services like Netflix. The Google Fiber TV bundle comes with a web-connected, HD-ready TV box, a DVR/Storage Box (with the ability to record as many as eight shows at the same time and up to 500 hours of HD programming), and a Nexus 7 Tablet that can serve as a remote control. While the service will naturally be available for the television, the company also plans to offer the ability to watch live TV on tablets via a Google Fiber TV app for the iPad and Android devices.
And now for the pricing: There is a one-time construction fee of $300. However, that will be waived if the consumer signs a two-year contract for the $120/month TV + internet package or a one-year contract for the $70/month internet-only package. A third option, which offers "free internet" at much slower speeds (up to 5 Mbps) requires a one-time payment of the $300 construction fee or $25/month for 12 months (this version can be had for at least seven years).
Interestingly, Google is holding a competition of sorts where neighborhoods in both versions of Kansas City (Kansas and Missouri) can rally support for Google Fiber. "To get service, each [neighborhood] needs a critical mass of their residents to pre-register. The [neighborhoods] with the highest pre-registration percentage will get Google Fiber first," said Google in its blog announcement. The pre-registration period runs for the next six weeks and requires a $10 deposit.
Discovery Channel is launching an extensive digital and social media campaign for the 25th anniversary of its annual Shark Week programming event, which this year begins on Sunday, August 12 at 9pm ET/PT. The campaign consists of the following:
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The BBC will be one of Adobe's first broadcast partners to use its Project Primetime platform to deliver live video streams and VOD content of the London Games across multiple devices, including desktops, smartphones, tablets, and connected TVs. Adobe's Project Primetime is a video tech platform that allows content companies to deliver television programming to the aforementioned device types via apps and browsers, and covers all major platforms, including iOS and Android. The two components of Project Primetime that will be used by BBC are Primetime Simulcast, which will allow the broadcaster to deliver live streaming video coverage of Olympic events, and Primetime Highlights, which will enable VOD coverage of important moments and highlights from London.
Blue Moon's first foray into a branded web series comes courtesy of a partnership with Digital Broadcasting Group (DBG). The series, called The Local Scene, will take viewers behind-the-scenes with three indie rock bands leading up to a performance. All the while, host Ryan McDonough will introduce viewers to a "variety of food and Blue Moon flavor pairings." Available on Blue Moon's Facebook page, the show aims to adhere to Blue Moon's "Artfully Crafted" tagline, and was shot on location at three eateries/venues in New York City and Hoboken. The Local Scene will also be distributed across select websites under the DBG portfolio.
Ovation, a multiplatform network focusing on the arts, is premiering a new original reality dance competition series produced by Nigel Lythgoe and his son Simon Lythgoe. A Chance to Dance follows two UK dancers and choreographers as they try to form a new dance company in the span of 28 days, from auditions around the country to an original live performance in New York City. The seven-part series will air on Ovation every Friday night at 10pm ET, beginning on August 17. While mostly a linear series, Ovation is offering a sneak peek of the premiere for digital rental via Milyoni and for free on a number of VOD and TV Everywhere services. In addition, Ovation says its Facebook page will feature outtakes, interviews, video diaries, and other content not included in the show throughout the season.
PROGRAMMING CALL: Cynopsis Digital will be producing an Online Video Content e-Special Report on Wednesday, August 29. The report will take an in-depth look at the development behind some of the best original web series as well as the innovators who have made them successful. If your company has released a premium, original series this year, and would like it to be considered as among the best in the web video space, please send your submission, which should include a brief overview of the series with pertinent information such as creator(s), producer(s), story, genre, cast, and the latest stats, to Sahil Patel at email@example.com, no later than August 10.
The Cynopsis Sports Media Awards Breakfast takes place on August 9 in New York City. If you haven't seen the finalists and registered to attend yet, you can do so here.
Streaming set-top box (STB) provider Roku has secured $45 million in financing from new investors News Corporation and British Sky Broadcasting (BSkyB), existing investors Menlo Ventures and Globespan Capital Partners, and an "unnamed strategic investor." Roku says it will use the new capital toward raising brand awareness via advertising; looking into new international markets; and increasing engineering and production to support sales growth of both hardware and digital media services on the platform, such as advertising, games, transactional, and PPV video, as well as content packages. In the announcement, Roku also said it has entered into business agreements with the two new financial backers, News Corp. and BSkyB. News Corp. acknowledged that it has worked with Roku in the past in launching several products and is looking forward to a strengthening of the partnership; BSkyB described the deal as a way for it to continue growing on the multiplatform front. This fall, Roku is planning to release a Streaming Stick, a wireless, dongle-sized streaming device, which can be connected to newer TVs and devices.
Auntie Anne's Pretzels has teamed up with The Coca-Cola Company, Millennial Media, and Sparkfly to pilot a mobile advertising campaign that hopes to solve the problem of tracking an ad's impact on consumer purchases at the retail point-of-sale. Scheduled to run during the back-to-school shopping season, the campaign will feature mobile ad creative that consists of different combinations of Auntie Anne's and Coke items for purchase at 10 Atlanta-area Auntie Anne's locations. Each ad unit will be given its own unique four-digit redemption code from Sparkfly. To redeem the offer, a consumer simply has to show the four-digit code to the cashier, who then has to enter the code into the register/point-of-sale system; this will enable the campaign to track individual sales at the item level, and thus, the revenue impact of the promotion. "Not only can we measure how effective individual offers are, but we can analyze the performance of individual display units," said Heather Neary, CMO for Auntie Anne's. The point-of-sale redemption and data tracking will be powered by Sparkfly's software platform. The idea is that this, combined with Millennial Media's ad analytics, will enable the two brands to get a better understanding of the impact of the ad campaign, from how often ads were viewed to transactional data. The partners say that consumers who receive the ads will be able to immediately redeem the coupon at checkout; if they'd like to save it for later, they will receive a text message with a link to the redemption code. The campaign will run exclusively on the Millennial Media platform, which offers a reach across more than 30,000 mobile apps on over 7,000 devices.
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New data from a recent ConsumerReports.org subscriber poll shows Vudu, iTunes, and Amazon Instant Video all scoring higher than Netflix's streaming service in terms of overall consumer satisfaction. The biggest issue respondents seem to have with Netflix Instant Watch is what they consider to be it's limited selection of movies. According to the study, fewer than one in five survey respondents said they were highly satisfied with the choice of titles from "all-you-can-watch" services like Netflix and Hulu Plus. In comparison, 60% of respondents said they were highly satisfied with pay-per-view video streaming services like iTunes, Amazon Instant Video, and Vudu. However it's not all bad news for Netflix, as 81% of respondents who used a streaming video service in the past month said they used Netflix. This is the first time the independent product-testing organization has provided ratings of video services, for which it polled 15,227 subscribers. Among the other findings, 52% of ConsumerReports.org subscribers polled said they used a streaming video service in the past month, compared to 47% who saw a movie in a theater, 43% who rented a DVD or Blu-ray disc, and 32% who used their TV provider's VOD service.
Back to the topic of Google and TVs, Engadget reports that the company is working on several new features for its Google TV platform. Specifically, a future update to Google TV will include the ability to pull up and control a YouTube video on the TV screen by using your phone or tablet. In addition, a new feature inside Google TV listings, called New Releases, will allow users to find the newest available movies.
Not done with Google yet: The company has released a new functionality on its mobile search website that allows users to search by handwriting the term. To enable "Handwrite for Mobile and Tablet Search," go to Google.com on your mobile browser, click "Settings" at the bottom of the page and select the option after scrolling down (Google says you may have to refresh the page after doing this in order to activate the feature). On tablets, search settings are available via the gear icon on the right side of the page. After this, when you go to Google.com on your mobile browser, tapping the Handwrite icon on the bottom right corner of the screen will activate the writing surface. On Android devices, Google says it works best on the Chrome browser. This functionality is currently available for iOS 5+ devices, Android 2.3+ phones, and Android 4.0+ tablets, and in 27 languages.
BlackArrow, an advertising solutions provider for "new" TV platforms, has named Michael Pohl as its new Chairman of the Board of Directors. Pohl joined the Board in 2011 and replaces Larry Kramer, who recently was appointed President and Publisher of USA Today (Kramer will still keep a seat on the BlackArrow Board).
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Disney Interactive has released Disney PIXEL'D for iOS devices. The free app allows users to create Disney-themed pixel art and then animate it via a frame-by-frame animation tool. Once done, users have the ability to share their artwork on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube, or through email. Other features include Buddy Draw, which allows multiple users to connect via Bluetooth or Wi-Fi to draw together in real-time; the ability to make in-app purchases for more Disney character stamps and fill patterns; and compatibility with iCloud so a user's galleries are available across all iOS devices.
Later - Sahil
Sahil Patel, Associate Editor for Cynopsis Digital
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