Friday, January 2nd, 2009


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Cynopsis: DIGITAL


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 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 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. 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 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%                       18,010     18,413       2%
Circuit City Stores, Inc.     19,466     15,456     -21%                 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. 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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JOB OPENING: STARTV’s office in NY is seeking a SALES MANAGER to develop and build ad sales operations.Must have 5 years TV/major media experience and knowledge of the South Asian market. Send resume to [email protected] (1/8)

JOB OPENING: Several PRODUCERS AND APs needed for a verite docu. MUST be NYC based. If you can research and book subjects, and operate a camera to shoot verite. Please send a resume/letter with no typos [email protected] (1/6)

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SITUATION WANTED: Chicago, IL-Experienced MEDIA SUPERVISOR with experience in both buying in planning.Has experience with both big and small clients, and can juggle multiple projects at once.Please contact [email protected]. (1/8)

SITUATION WANTED: MEDIA SUPERVISOR/PLANNER/BUYER available for permanent/temp assignments.15 years experienced with local and national  small & large campaigns utilizing TV/Radio/Print/Online. Contact me at: [email protected] (1/8)

SITUATION WANTED: STILL PHOTOGRAPHER/VIDEOGRAPHER with 20 years experience on location and in studio in film/tv and music business looking for related position in the industry. Contact [email protected] (1/8)

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SITUATION WANTED: Chicago, IL-Experienced MEDIA SUPERVISOR with experience in both buying in planning. Has experience with both big and small clients, and can juggle multiple projects at once. Please contact [email protected] (1/7)

SITUATION WANTED: WRITER/EDITORIAL DIRECTOR guts + passion + excellence! tons o’ experience connecting w/all kinds of audiences, all media. FREE COPY @ contact: [email protected] (1/6)

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SITUATION WANTED: FIELD PRODUCER/ DIRECTOR:LA/ Docusoap, Lifestyle, Infotainment,Feature Doc + more. Resonant leader,` keen director/ writer, strong storyteller + showrunner. 8+ yrs. Will travel. [email protected] 917.716.7277 (1/3)

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