| Cynopsis: DIGITAL
Good morning, it's Monday, October 25, 2010, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. If you would like to read this or any other Cynopsis edition online, click here.
Google's approach of "build it and they will come" appears to have failed with the Google TV platform as the top 3 broadcast networks - ABC, CBS and NBC - are all blocking access to full-length episodes on their sites via Google TV devices. (So far the $300 Logitech set-top and Sony's $400 Blu-ray player and stand alone TV's are the only Google TV devices.) Networks remain concerned that browser-based viewing of their shows will continue to erode ratings and undercut the current ad supported business model. The issue of enabling easy viewing of pirated content is also a worry.
~ MULTIPLATFORM CONTENT NEWS ~
As part of Time Warner Cable and Disney's hard-fought carriage agreement finalized last month, Time Warner Cable customers who receive ESPN as part of their package can watch tonight's Monday Night Football match-up between the Cowboys and Giants on their computers via an authenticated TV Everywhere version of ESPN or via broadband channel ESPN3.com. Access to ESPN2, ESPNU, ESPN Goal Line and ESPN Buzzer Beater will also be available in the coming weeks, available through ESPNNetworks.com.
PBS Newshour is planning extensive multiplatform coverage on election night, including a live webcast from 10 pm - 11 pm powered by Ustream and a special online and on air broadcast from 11 pm to midnight, both hosted by Jim Lehrer. Other features include social media commenting from Twitter, Facebook, MySpace and AIM and a live results page showcasing AP results data and Patchwork Nation graphics.
Aforementioned live-streaming video service Ustream, which attracts some 45 million monthly uniques, announced it will begin enabling broadcasters to charge viewers to watch content via a PPV model. Independent producers will be able to charge per episode for premium content through online wallet service PayPal. The site is also planning a tool to enable viewers to watch programming ad-free.
Plano, TX-based movie exhibitor Cinemark unveiled its "NextGen" cinema concept, debuting with the Cinemark Frisco Square complex in the Dallas suburbs. The cinema will feature wall-to-wall, ceiling-to-floor Real D-3D screens, Barco DLP projectors, JBL sound systems and self-serve concession stands.
~ TECHNOLOGY DEALS, MERGERS AND SKIRMISHES ~
Following the discovery that Facebook was allowing third party apps to collect user data without their permission, MySpace was found guilty of the same practice, according a WSJ report. Personal profile data is being mined by popular applications such as Tag Me, Rock You Pets and GreenSpot and being transmitted via MySpace User IDs when a user clicks on an ad.
Google finally admitted in a blog post on Friday that some emails, passwords and URLs were captured by its web connected Street View camera, up and running in countries across the world. The company apologized for the breech and said it "wants to" delete the data as soon as possible.
~ TRENDS, RESEARCH, ETC. ~
Social media, online video, and 3D content proved to be the hottest formats according to video ad technology provider Unicast during Q2, while ads in Messenger Units (served via IM platforms), Branded Canvas (placed within full episode video players) and Pushdowns had the highest average engagement times and click-through rates. Technology, Home Improvement and Restaurants verticals had the highest engagement times. Interactive features such as videos, polls, quizzes and games increased engagement time and interaction rates significantly, according to the report.
Key Format Metrics, Q2 2010
Format Click Through Interaction Avg. Ad Avg. Video Avg. Engage
Rate Rate Display (sec.) Play (sec.) Time (sec.)
Expand Multi-Panel 0.44% 8.24% 53 11 22
Expand Single-Panel 0.46% 3.55% 30 11 15
3D Interactive Banner 0.02% 5.43% 244 10 -
InPage Banner 0.12% 0.43% 68 13 14
Messenger 0.09% 9.04% 166 6 68
Branded Canvas 0.84% 11.52% 33 24 24
Peelback 0.16% 0.90% 51 24 48
Pushdown 0.44% 1.59% 73 7 23
Transitional 1.78% 1.40% 11 4 -
Wallpaper 1.01% 0.16% 61 - -
The latest tablet computer hit the marketplace (shipping mid Nov.), will be HP's Slate 500 (sorry, it actually costs $799.) The Wi-Fi only device, which does throw in a dock and a case for that price, is powered by Intel's 1.86Ghz Atom processor and runs on the Windows 7 operating system. You also get front and rear-facing 3 megapixel cameras and a USB port, which will enable connection of various peripherals. The Slate's 8.9-inch touchscreen enables you to jot down notes using N-trig's digital pencil - providing hope that future generations may yet retain knowledge of cursive.
Syfy is celebrating Halloween with the 6-hour live telecast of Ghost Hunters and the launch of its first Ghost Hunters iPhone app, detailing 100 haunted locations previously investigated by the Ghost Hunters team. The app features a location-aware message board and enables users to check in via Foursquare directly. New haunted sites will be added each week after they are featured on the show.
~ EXECUTIVE MOVES ~
Meredith National Media Group has hired Liz Schimel to fill the newly created role of EVP/ Consumer Relationship Management and Digital Media. Liz will oversee consumer marketing, digital marketing and operations, database marketing and new business development and report to Andy Sareyan, President, Consumer Brands. She most recently served as Global Head of Music and Connected Entertainment for Nokia.
New York-based BRIGADE, a next-generation publicity, digital marketing and creative agency has opened for business. Tom Cunha and Jean McDowell will supervise the digital marketing division focused on publicity, promotions, social media and media planning in addition to promotional websites, banner ads and viral apps. Adam Kersh will lead the traditional publicity unit encompassing films, filmmakers, festivals and talent representation.
San Diego-based digital agency Digitaria has appointed Tom Siebert as its VP/Communications. He moves west from Brooklyn based Huge.
NBC, Fox and ABC joint venture Hulu, reportedly preparing for an IPO in the coming weeks, is planning to cut the subscription price of the Hulu Plus service in half to $4.95/mo. to try and recruit more customers, per AllThingsD. Hulu Plus, still officially in beta, provides a deeper catalog of shows and integration with some popular devices including the iPad, iPhone and PlayStation 3. But it's far from being ubiquitous on devices designed to bring broadband programming to your television (Roku announced it will add Hulu Plus last month, but not being on the newly relaunched Apple TV seems a missed opportunity.) And Hulu's network partners don't seem fully committed to making it a compelling service, randomly adding and removing full seasons without warning. It's as if the networks want to have a stake in the connected living room but don't want users to have too much fun watching their shows off the grid. This is understandable, but don't expect users to pay for something that's only marginally better than a product that be enjoyed for free. Hulu has doggedly blocked access of its ad supported site to Over-the-top platforms and devices such as the upcoming Boxee box [finally shipping on Nov. 10,] but connecting a laptop or Mac Mini to a television is an easy workaround for the growing population of cord cutters.
Later -- Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis Digital
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