Friday, February 12th, 2010

Cynopsis: DIGITAL

Good morning, it’s Friday, February 12, 2010, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.

After sending the message to local broadcast stations that they would lose additional spectrum if they did not figure our a way to use it, the FCC is considering a plan to buyback airwaves from station groups to make room for additional mobile broadband spectrum, per BusinessWeek. Funds could be used from airwave auctions to pay existing rights holders to vacate the space. The rapid growth of smartphones is putting heavy strain on existing networks and the upcoming launch of the iPad, which will ship with a 3G $30 all-you-can surf option from AT&T, is only going to compound the problem. For their part, broadcasters have been moving quickly to come up with useful wireless services and applications through the Open Mobile Video Coalition and will likely fight to keep the spectrum.


Apple may successfully negotiate the right to cut the price for TV shows in half by the time the iPad launches in April, per the FT. The move follows aggressive price cutting of rental DVDs by kiosk services such as Redbox, which also charges $1. Some networks have already agreed to the price cut, according to the report.
SyFy, Albie Hecht’s Worldwide Biggies and THQ are teaming up to launch a new kid-themed multiplatform interactive property under the new “SyFy Kids” banner. Six animated “Dr. What” shorts, a special and a series of episodic online games will be developed with Worldwide Biggies on Syfy and blending science fiction, fantasy, mystery, paranormal and adventure. THQ‘s de Blob franchise will also play a major role in the new offshoot, according to the network.
A couple of cable networks are feeling amorous heading into Valentines Day this Sunday.‘s Valentines Day minisite provides some historical context to the event, with videos explaining the history of the holiday, the card and, of course, the Massacre. (Feb. 14, 1929 was the day Al Capone decided to consolidate his position in the Chicago bootlegging business.) Meanwhile, Bravo has updated its customizable e-cards with Valentine’s Day themed greetings, where viewers can create customizable e-cards featuring their favorite Bravo celebrity.
After experiencing success selling The Queen in 3D at MIPCOM 2009, Digital Rights Group (DRG) announced it has launched a 3D catalogue of pictures with the new division, 3DRG. The catalogue will include recently produced 3D titles and will be shopped at MIP-TV 2010.


Absurdly funded online video start-up Veoh finally pulled the plug, laying off remaining employees and planning a chapter 7 bankruptcy filing in the near future, according to a report in AllThingD. The company has burned through more than $70 million in funding from a long list of prominent investors.
The writing appeared to be on the wall about this at CES, but apparently now it’s official. Digital movie service Vudu is officially abandoning its model of trying to get customers to buy a dedicated set-top box in order to stream its movies, reports the NYTimes. Instead, like its rival Netflix, Vudu will look to integrate with CE manufactures to deliver movies right into televisions and Blu-ray players. LG and Mitsubishi have already baked Vudu into some sets and players, while Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp, Toshiba and Vizio expect to complete integrations later this summer. Vudu also offers its own Yahoo TV widget-style app platform that is gaining in popularity.
London-based indie filmmaking group Shooting People is launching a curated channel featured on Babelgum‘s online, iPhone and Android mobile application platforms. The two groups will also work closely to launch the 3rd edition of the Babelgum Online Film Festival.


Google acquired social search engine Aardvark for approximately $50 million, reports TechCrunch. The service, started by several former Google employees, enables users to ping its community by asking questions and receiving immediate answers from friends and contacts connected to them. Aardvark claims an 87.7% answer rate (% of the questions asked that actually get answered) and a 75% participation rate (% of people who have asked a question who also a answered a question for someone else.)
Break Media has acquired FileFront, a gaming site claiming 9 million monthly uniques featuring gaming news, downloads and demos. Break’s design team plans to redesign the site and begin to share its content with the family of male-targeted Break properties.
The decision to leave Flash off the iPad is exasperating a feud between Apple and Adobe and putting the spotlight on the up-and-coming HTML5 standard for video and interactive graphics, per the WSJ.


Online video viewing increased by over 5% y/y in Jan. as the total video viewing universe reached 142 million users in the U.S., according to Nielsen. YouTube and Hulu held strong but Microsoft’s Bing search engine helped the company expand its monthly streaming average by 27% y/y, while MTV and ABC also experienced huge growth. Disney Online and Facebook were the fastest growing video brands in terms of unique viewers.
Overall Online Video Usage (U.S.)
                                        Jan-10       Y/Y     M/M
Unique Viewers (000)     142,668      5.2% 3.8%
Total Streams (000)        11,061,458 5.8% 3.1%
Streams per Viewer         77.5   0.5% -0.8%
Time per Viewer (min)     188.7 5.7% -2.3%
Source: The Nielsen Company
Top Online Brands ranked by Total Streams for Jan. 2010 (U.S.)
Rank  Video Brand Total Streams (000) MOM Streams % Growth
1  YouTube                   6,622,374                 3.0%
2  Hulu                            635,546                 0.1%
3  Yahoo!                         221,355                -9.2%
4  MSN/WindowsLive/Bing 179,741              27.3%
5  Turner Sports and Ent.  137,311               -3.5%
6  MTV Networks Music    131,077                31.7%
7  ABC Television             128,510                 71.3%
8  Fox Interactive Media 124,513                 -0.7%
9  Nick Kids & Family       117,057                  9.3%
10 Megavideo                 115,089                  3.7%
Source: The Nielsen Company
Top Online Brands ranked by Unique Viewers for January 2010 (U.S.)
Rank  Video Brand                  Unique Viewers (000)       MOM Viewers % Growth
1        YouTube                           112,642    6.7%
2        Yahoo!                                26,081    -5.3%
3        Facebook                            21,529    18.6%
4        MSN/WindowsLive/Bing      15,645    15.6%
5        Hulu                                   15,256     11.9%
6        Fox Interactive Media          11,450      4.9%
7        Google                                10,567    2.5%
8        CNN Digital Network            10,385    11.6%
9        ESPN Digital Network            8,995    6.2%
10      Disney Online                       8,066     23.3%
Source: The Nielsen Company
Rising gas prices, winter storms, improved broadband penetration and increasing comfort levels will drive a rebound in e-commerce spending in 2010 after the first drop in over a decade last year, according to ComScore‘s annual e-commerce round up. Holiday spending in 2009 actually increased by double-digital % points over 2008 periods. Event tickets, games and software and consumer electronics were among the few categories that eked out gains last year.


AT&T has launched an NBC Olympics app for its U-verse IPTV platform just in time for the Winter Games, allowing subscribers to watch up to 4 channels at once as well as access athlete bios, event schedules, and the latest headlines and medal counts.
FLO TV will also be carrying coverage of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver through a partnership with the NBC 2Go Channel beginning Feb. 12.
London-based mobile music streaming service Shazam announced a number of enhancements for its popular Shazam Encore and Shazam Red Apps on the App Store. New features include access to tour information for tagged artists, the Shazam Blog and the ability to use to create custom internet radio stations using their tagged music.
Gay fashion and lifestyle magazine Out launched its own free iPhone app featuring geo-targeted guides providing info on the best local gay bars, restaurants, shops, nightlife, and hotels. The Out mobile app currently covers New York, Los Angeles, and San Francisco.


Former Facebook executive Owen Van Natta has left his post as CEO of News Corp.’s MySpace after only 9 months on the job. He will be succeeded by MySpace execs Mike Jones and Jason Hirschhorn, who were named Co-Presidents of the social network. Mike had served as COO while Jason, former President of Sling Media’s entertainment division, was previously Chief Product Officer.
Veteran advertising producer Bob Nelson, formerly Director of Broadcast Production at DDB, NY, has joined design company Eyeball as President, where he will focus on expanding the design boutique’s advertising roster.
Mediaedge:cia (MEC) has hired Jackie Stasi to lead the Paramount Theatrical Digital team. Jackie joins MEC from OMD, where she was Digital Group Director.
Young & Rubicam has added Droga5’s Kevin Brady as a Global Creative Director on the Dell account. He will report directly to Co-Executive Creative Directors Scott Vitrone and Ian Reichenthal.


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The American Women in Radio & Television Women’s Media Forum is the event where professionals &
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It appears as though the Summer Olympics in Beijing may have represented the peak in streaming video coverage of the games, under the NBC regime at any rate, whose rights to the event expire in 2012. The network is cutting down from 2,200 hours of live Silverlight-powered video coverage on to something like 400 hours in Vancouver, and don’t expect to see any of the premiere events like hockey or downhill skiing. Instead, the site is more focused on clips, news, photos and, of course, the obligatory Tweet Sheet from athletes at the Olympic grounds. What’s more, NBC is working with live streaming specialists Ustream and to try and prevent live NBC broadcast footage from being uploaded to the internet, per Mediaweek. The idea, of course, is to insure that as many viewers as possible tune into live coverage on NBCU’s family of networks, given that most big events will happen in prime time in the U.S. It would seem the sponsorship dollars are just not there yet to effectively monetize the expensive endeavor. However, the strategy represents quite a risk given the penchant younger viewers have for watching video online. This demo has only increased its online consumption over the past 18 months.
Later – Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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