CYNOPSIS EVENTS AT NATPE 2009
Dana Walden & Gary Newman
Twentieth Century Fox Television Co-Chairmen
Wednesday, January 28, 8:00 – 9:00 am
Director of TV Ads, Google
Thursday, January 29, 8:30am – 9:30 am
Register for NATPE, Promo Code ZERSN09, and save $500
Good morning, it’s Friday, January 2, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing .
Happy New Year!
Time Warner Cable and MTV Networks settled a carriage dispute on New Years Eve just hours before 19 Viacom-owned channels such as MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon were set to be removed from over 15 million TWC and Bright House Networks customers’ cable line-ups. The dispute was about more than just fee increases (MTV Networks was asking for an increase of “less than 25 cents/month per subscriber” according to a Viacom release.) Cable operators increasingly feel their product is being undervalued by the easy availability of television programming online. At the same time, providers such as Time Warner Cable continue to position themselves as broadband providers of choice to consumers who prefer to view their shows online. MTV Networks shows are available on multiple sites including Hulu, Fancast, Veoh, Joost, and Viacom-owned show sites.
MLB Network officially launched yesterday to an unprecedented 50 million cable and satellite households. The first day’s programming included the first-ever rebroadcast of the 1956 World Series game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees in which Don Larsen threw a perfect game.
Nintendo‘s wildly popular Wii gaming platform is teaming with Japanese ad giant Dentsu to launch a downloadable video distribution service in Japan later this year, reported Reuters. Some programming will be offered free of charge and some will be available for purchase on an a la carte basis.
Looking for a little insider dope on this year’s Oscar hopefuls? Check out Angle On, The Writer’s Guild of America West’s new YouTube interview series probing the stories behind projects such as John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt or Charlie Kaufman’s Synecdoche, New York. Upcoming subjects will include Joss Whedon (Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog), Ed Bernero (Criminal Minds), Justin Haythe (Revolutionary Road), Stuart Beattie (Australia) and Grant Nieporte (Seven Pounds).
The WB.com debuts a new weekly web series on Monday – Eric the Trainer: New Year New You. Fitness trainer to the stars Eric Fleishman gives tips on diet, exercise and healthy sleep habits.
Apps from the popular music sharing service Project Playlist was removed from both MySpace and Facebook after The Recording Industry Association of America requested their removal until licensing deals can be established. Project Playlist enables users to upload music and create personal playlists that other users can access. Three of the four major music labels filed suit against the company last April accusing it of violating copyrights by instructing users how to illegally download tracks. The start-up struck its first licensing deal with the lawsuit’s one holdout, Sony BMG, in December.
Non-profit publisher Consumer Reports acquired Gawker Media‘s consumer watchdog blog Consumerist.com for an undisclosed amount.
Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s Comedic video site FunnyorDie raised an additional $3 million in cash from an undisclosed investor, per Reuters.
Dailymotion announced support of JanRain’s open source OpenID digital identity standard allowing users to consolidate their account with other identities on the internet.
The Style Network is utilizing user generated cable TV ad tool SaysMe.TV to allow fans to create their own 30-second spots around the reality show Ruby, which follows the weight-loss journey of 500-pound Ruby Gettinger. Fans can pay as little as $25 to customize one of two ads which will appear on Style with their own names. The ads can also be embedded into leading social networking sites. SaysMe.tv is funded by Intel Capital, Prime Capital with participation by Ashton Kutcher’s Katalyst Films, Bill Apfelbaum and others.
The Screen Actors Guild will postpone sending out strike authorization ballots until January 14 at the earliest that were originally slated to go out today. An in-person SAG National Board meeting is now set for January 12-13.
The share price of Apple fell precipitously this week after tech blog Gizmodo reported that CEO Steve Jobs is forgoing his usual Macworld keynote due to “his rapidly declining health.” The rumor, as Gizmodo positioned the report, has kicked off a debate about whether or not Steve’s health should be a matter of such public scrutiny.
Warner Music Group ordered YouTube to remove all music videos by its artists before Christmas after contract negotiations over the companies’ ad revenue split broke down, per Reuters. Music videos have long been one of the most popular genres of programming on the video sharing site; for instance Sony BMG artist Beyonce’s title track If I Were a Boy has racked up more than 27 million views.
HDNet, Landmark Cinemas, 2929 Entertainment and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban acquired a 9.4% stake in Carmike Cinemas, the 4th largest exhibition chain in the U.S, according to an SEC filing.
Digital music sales again failed to make up for dropping CD sales in 2008, according to Nielsen’s SoundScan. Album sales dropped 20% to 362.6 million units. Digital downloads grew by 27% and reached the milestone of 1 million songs purchased during 2008. Lil Wayne’s “Tha Carter III” was album of the year selling nearly 2.9 million copies.
Treacherous weather conditions around the holidays helped Amazon.com post its best ever holiday sales results. The company finished the season with over 6.3 million items ordered. Amazon shipped to over 210 countries and singled out Samsung’s 52-inch 1080p 120Hz LCD HDTV with RED Touch of Color, the Apple iPod touch 8 GB, the Acer Aspire One 8.9-inch netbook and the Nintendo Wii as hot sellers. Sales peaked on Dec. 15 when nearly 73 items were ordered per second worldwide, on average.
Despite increases from Amazon, Apple, Wal-Mart and Sears overall online sales declined by 3% to $25.5 billion during the holiday shopping season ending Dec. 23, according to comScore. The websites of Circuit City, Overstock, Dell and JCPenney experienced steep drop offs for the month of Dec. vs. a year ago.
Traffic Growth to Top Retailer Sites
Dec. 1 – Dec. 24, 2008 vs. Corresponding Days* in 2007
Total U.S. – Home/Work/University Locations
Unique Visitors (000)
2007 2008 Percent Change
Total Internet 171,113 179,997 5%
eBay 88,894 85,442 -4%
Amazon Sites 70,975 76,240 7%
Wal-Mart 49,632 51,546 4%
Target Corporation 47,338 46,837 -1%
Apple Inc. 29,450 35,017 19%
Best Buy Sites 28,602 28,555 0%
JCPenney Sites 21,329 18,918 -11%
Toysrus Sites 19,817 18,075 -9%
Sears.com 18,010 18,413 2%
Circuit City Stores, Inc. 19,466 15,456 -21%
Overstock.com 18,911 15,951 -16%
AmericanGreetings 17,273 14,666 -15%
Hewlett Packard 15,217 19,425 28%
Dell 17,279 14,305 -17%
Macy’s Inc. 15,715 15,868 1%
Source: comScore Media Metrix
*Corresponding days based on corresponding shopping days (Oct. 27 – Dec. 19, 2007)
The 30 GB version of Microsoft‘s subscription-based MP3 player the Zune experienced a meltdown before the New Year, caused by a bug in the internal clock driver (related to the way it manages the leap year.) An estimated 1 million units froze on New Years Eve. Microsoft says the issue should have been resolved on Jan. 1.
Apple is preparing to launch a large screen version of the iPod touch sometime in the fall and is now speaking with manufacturers in Asia to produce the device, according to TechCrunch. Imagine being able to play all those accelerometer games on a 9-inch screen?
The $99 Roku digital video player added support of HD titles from online video provider Netflix.
Gannet’s USA Today launched a free iPhone app providing news, graphics and photos in the categories of News, Money, Sports, Life, Tech and Travel. Cool functions include the ability to post stories to Twitter via an integration with the iPhone app Twitterific.
Funky iPhone app maker Reality Jockey introduced a follow up to its music creation tool RjDj. RjDj Shake allows you to pick from a list of songs then adjust the soundtrack by shaking the device, jumping up and down or dancing.
AccuWeather.com also joined the platform with its own GPS-powered iPhone App. The application provides location-based forecasts, breaking weather news and multiple graphics and indexes including UV, air quality, Arthritis and Flu.
The proliferation of geotagging and location-specific services should serve notice to news organizations everywhere: people want their news and information tailored to where they live. A site on the forefront of hyper-targeted news is Brooklyn-based start-up Outside.In, which just closed on a new round of funding from existing venture and angel investors, including Union Square Ventures, the New York City Investment Fund, and Betaworks. Outside.In categories information on the web by tagging it by city, neighborhood, intersection or street address. When users plug in their location, they can pull up news stories and blog postings relevant to their little microcosm of the world. Outside.In’s Radar service provides news feeds. StoryMaps is a widget that allows users to display blog archives visually. The site can then sell ads not only by city, but also by neighborhood or even city block. The start-up launched its own API in November to allow third party developers to access its database of local content by location within 1,000 feet, including news stories, blog posts and Twitter tweets. How’s that for drilling down?
Later — Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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