Good morning, it’s Friday, July 10, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
Rupert Murdoch’s popular British tabloid The News of The World is embroiled in a juicy scandal worthy of the digital age. (Competitor The Guardian, which broke the story, is making much hay out of the news across multiple platforms.) News Of The World journalists are accused of hacking into the cell phones of thousands of prominent British citizens, including Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson and model Elle MacPherson, while News Corp.’s New Group Newspapers is said to have paid more than £1m in hush-up money to keep the affair under wraps. Cell phones were hacked into to gain unlawful access to confidential personal data, including tax records, social security files, bank statements and itemized phone bills. There are even accusations that British police were involved. Mr. Murdoch has denied any involvement or knowledge of the affair.
Starz is joining Comcast‘s walled garden “On Demand Online” trial offering up unlimited access to an initial 300 movies and shows. Movies such as Hancock and Pineapple Express and Starz originals including Crash will be viewable by authenticated Starz cable subscribers in standard or high-def on Comcast’s Comcast.net or Fancast.com.
MSNBC secured its first HD carriage agreement with Dish Network – bringing Dish’s HD line up to over 140 national feeds. MSNBC HD will be added to Dish’s Classic Silver offering.
Sony’s Crackle.com will premiere the first 4 episodes of its new online comedy series “Dusty Peacock” on Monday, bowing new episodes each weekday through July 17. It stars Gary Valentine as a hapless illusionists and is directed by Rob Schiller, both of whom worked together on Sony Pictures’ The King of Queens.
TNT launched two new casual games to compliment its two new summer dramas (both set to premiere on July 15), Leverage: Art of the Con and Dark Blue: Undercover.
LG 15 and Harper’s Globe producers EQAL have unveiled a sneak peek trailer of the interactive web site they are putting together with CSI creator Anthony Zuiker. (The video looks slickly-produced and sufficiently creepy enough to attract a mother lode of horror fans.) Level26, described as a “digi-novel,” is a next generation attempt to utilize the web to engage readers. Users must enter codes from the novel to unlock exclusive video, audio and photos that help to flesh out the mystery. Anthony and the EQAL guys will go into further details at a panel at Comic-Con in San Diego on July 25. Other prominent entertainment figures making it to Comic-Con this year include Hayao Miyazaki, John Lasseter, Tim Burton and Robert Zemeckis.
Redwood City, CA-based mobile video start-up Qik raised an additional $5.5 million in funding from Quest Venture Partners, CampVentures, and various individuals. Quest’s Marcus Ogawa has also joined Qik’s Board of Directors. Qik’s technology allows users to stream live video from cell phones to secure servers on the internet.
Social networks are struggling to earn ad money and making adjustments accordingly (witness the house cleaning at MySpace.) But the foundation is finally laid to begin to make a real business out of the phenomenon, according to new findings from eMarketer. In a year in which almost every ad category is down, spending on social networks will also drop some 3% this year to $1.14 billion. However the category is expected to rebound the following year, increasing by 13.2% in 2010 and 8.2% to nearly $1.4 billion in 2011. Part of the upward trend has to do with marketers developing a more sophisticated social networking strategy – integrating larger campaigns into the social efforts and launching more sponsored apps and widgets.
US Online Social Networking Ad Spending by Venue, 2008 & 2009
(millions & % of total)
2008 2008 % 2009 2009 %
of total of total
MySpace $585 49.8% $495 43.4%
Facebook $210 17.9% $230 20.2%
Other Destinations $340 28.9% $345 30.3%
Widgets & Apps $40 3.4% $70 6.1%
Source: eMarketer, May 2009
U.S. agencies are trying to get to the bottom of a wave of cyber attacks against a series of web sites in the U.S. and South Korea including the World Wide Web addresses of the Treasury Dept. and the Federal Trade Commission. Opinions remains divided as to where the attacks are initiating from, but North Korea is at the top of the suspect list.
This one could be a win/win deal for two companies that could benefit from leveraging each other’s customer bases. Tivo announced a broad alliance with electronics retailer Best Buy that will increase the visibility of Tivo DVRs in its stores and utilize the Tivo platform to market Best Buy products. The companies said they are exploring the launch of a new customized user interface for units purchased at BestBuy that would open up lines of communications with customers about deals, product info. and related services.
Inergize Digital rolled out a new online search directory dubbed “Seek it Local” that generates revenue for its local station clients by promoting the services of local businesses and making it easier for consumers to find goods and services on local station sites. The geo-coded interface points consumers to the nearest local station when seeking services.
Netflix completed another integration deal this time with Sony Electronics, enabling Netflix subscribers to download “Watch Instantly” titles on Bravia broadband-connected HDTVs and older models compatible with the Bravia Internet Video Link module. Netflix has also completed integration deals with Tivo, Vizio, Samsung, LG, Microsoft’s Xbox and Roku.
YouTube won some minor legal victories this week as a New York judge dismissed a number of claims for statutory damages sought by the UK’s Premiere football League and a group of music publishers.
Universal Music Group Distribution entered into a marketing agreement with digital music distributor TuneCore to outsource the creation of distribution portals for UMG’s labels as well as partner labels and artists. TuneCore takes a flat fee for distributing music to iTunes, eMusic, Rhapsody and other major download and streaming sites,
Demand for home broadband will continue to increase despite the global economic slowdown according to new research from Parks Associates. The number of broadband households worldwide grew by over 18% in 2008 to exceed 400 million and will climb to more than 640 million households by 2013. Asia-Pacific is the largest market, accounting for over 160 million subscribers, and the region will have over 49% of the global market share by 2013.
The rapid proliferation of smartphones and 3G networks will help fuel demand for mobile financial services according to ComScore. Although smartphones sport a number of easy-to-use financial services apps, browser-based usage remains higher. Web browsing ranked as the most popular method for both smartphone (44.1%) and 3G users (53.3%), followed closely by mobile applications (48.1% of 3G users and 40.6% of smartphone users).
Amazon has launched the beta version of Amazon Wireless, a new outlet that bundles all the cell phones and service plans available on the site.
Entertainment news site HitFix launched an interactive calendar allowing fans to set reminders for upcoming events then download them to their desktop apps or mobile devices including Outlook or the iPhone.
Sam L. Malik has been appointed Director of Marketing for the Presentation Technologies Group of Sanyo North America. He will be based in Chatsworth, CA.
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One of the true innovators in the live streaming space has been Justin.tv (named after founder Justin Kan). The site has come a long way since its days as a single “lifecasting” channel, which documented Kan’s life 24/7 via a web cam strapped to his cap. The site has slowly transformed itself from a mundane slice-of-life platform into a distribution outlet for produced live video, searchable by topic, genre and personality. Now, with the launch of its Live Facebook app, Justin.tv has brought the power of live video to social networking. Any of Facebook 200 million + users can broadcast live videos of themselves with a webcam and an internet connection for free – simply install the app and filter live feeds by network or friends. A Facebook live stream box allows users to discuss what’s happening in real time, a la the Michael Jackson memorial or the Obama inauguration. A “Live” tab appears on your Facebook page once you’ve downloaded the app to help spread the word. As with any of these new innovations, there will be a lot of noise. But if used to its fullest potential, new stars and ad opportunities could be born.
Later — Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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JOB OPENING: COORDINATOR/MGR, DIGITAL VIDEO PRODUCTS/Nickelodeon/NYC: 2-5yrs exp w/ oversight/grown of Nick’s digital video business initiatives across various platforms + EOE/M/F/D/AAP. Apply www.mtvncareers.com (7/17)
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