Good morning, it’s Monday, June 1, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing.
The nation’s top newspaper publishers gathered in Chicago late last week to discuss the transition to paid digital publishing including executives from Gannett, The New York Times Co., E.W. Scripps, McClatchy, Hearst and MediaNews Group, according to Editor & Publisher. (News of the unpublicized meeting was first broken by The Atlantic.) Antitrust concerns have emerged over such gatherings, but sources characterized the meeting as an informal “exchange of ideas.”
Disney/Pixar‘s 3D animated tale Up got a bigger rise than expected at the box office, netting an estimated $68.2 million according to the studio – a new high for a 3D movie and the third biggest opening for a Pixar movie after The Incredibles and Finding Nemo, (both of which topped $70 million.)
GSN, which has long dabbled in two-way interactive applications, is introducing a new Game Show programming block on Sat., June 13 with online interactivity featured as a central component. In fact, “Big Saturday Night” is doling out $1 million in cash over the summer utilizing interactive game play. 20Q, hosted by Cat Deeley and Talk Soup’s Hal Sparks as the voice of the computer, is based on handheld game in which “Hal” must guess a word or phrase by asking up to 20 questions. The Money List with Fred Roggin allows audiences to compete against one another online for cash and prizes.
History is offering Academy of Television Arts & Sciences members an iTunes exclusive this year. Beginning today, all of the network’s Emmy submissions will be viewable online for free via iTunes, along with exclusive material not included with the DVD Emmy packages.
Soccer hooligans use social media tools – who knew? British broadcaster ITV tried a Twitter integration over the weekend, teaming with app maker Twitterfall to allow fans to post tweets during the FA Cup Final. Web tool maker thruSITES tracked which players generated the most buzz during the game and AudioBoo offered an audio commenting service via the iPhone.
Current TV is also getting into the social media game, beginning June 8 on Sky and Virgin Media in the UK. Two teams of Current citizen journalists, one representing Twitter, the other Facebook, will face off against each other solving daily challenges with the help of their perspective communities.
EU regulators have decided to pursue a new round of sanctions against Microsoft for uncompetitive bundling practices after levying $1.2 billion in fines against the software giant last year, per the WSJ. This time discussions are underway to require Microsoft to bundle rival browsers with its Windows operating system to make it easier for consumers to choose alternative methods of surfing the web.
The list of A-List celebrities who have signed an online statement of solidarity to ratify SAG‘s tentative 2-year TV and Theatrical contract renewal has grown to 500 names on SAG.org, including George Clooney, Sally Field and Tom Hanks. SAG members received ballots on May 19 and have until June 9 to return the ballots.
CNET is partnering with Thomson Reuters to implement the latter’s OpenCalais service for semantic analysis of tech product reviews, news, and blog postings. CNET has also joined Thomson Reuters as one of the first commercial media companies to publish core data to Thompson’s cloud-based “Linked Data” archive. Linked Data is an effort to share news and other content freely with external companies.
Online video and digital asset management firm The Feed Room completed an integration with widget maker Clearspring to enable distribution of web video across multiple social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Digg and del.icio.us.
~ GADGETS & APPS ~
The new Apple iPhone 3.0 operating system will include support for direct downloads of movies and TV shows from the iTunes store, per Apple Insider. The company has already offered a glimpse of some the new features that will be enabled with the release, which include
- In App Purchases, allowing developers sell content and services from within their apps
- Peer to Peer Connectivity, particularly useful for multi-player game apps
- Email Push Notification
- A new Map Kit framework integrating Google Mobile Mapps
- iPod Library Access allowing users tap into their music, podcast or audio book libraries from third party apps
THQ has a number of interactive fitness games based on NBC‘s The Biggest Loser currently in development exclusively for the Wii, Nintendo DS and DSi, scheduled for release this fall. Joy Tashjian Marketing Group, the exclusive licensing rep for NBC’s prime-time line-up, secured the merchandise licensing agreement.
Google‘s top policy executive Andrew McLaughlin is leaving to join the Obama administration as Deputy Chief Technology Officer reporting to Aneesh Chopra, per the NYTimes.
On the eve of this year’s E3 convention EA is trying out a new model, releasing a browser-based version of the popular Tiger Woods PGA Tour golf game as an online subscription game. (The game is currently in closed beta and requires a client software download.) Instead of paying $60 or more upfront for the software title, players are asked to pay an (unspecified as yet) monthly fee to play the game from wherever they have a broadband connection. The beauty of the subscription model for gamers is that they don’t have to wait a year to get access to the newest EA courses or equipment. EA has the chance to make extra dough by selling new (sponsored) clubs as players advance in the game. It also makes the social component – tried with the latest Wii version of the Tiger Woods game, a lot easier to manage. Facebook Connect and MySpace ID integrations make it easy play against friends, track scoring or tourney results or, of course, talk trash. EA is ahead of the curve here, and the company is really hoping this will work. With marketing costs spiraling out of control for the increasingly hit-dependent gaming industry, building communities of users who are willing to contribute monthly revenue streams is a lot more sustainable. Unfortunately the transition is likely to be a slow and painful one. Getting 10 million World of Warcrafters to pay for online play is one thing; getting players to pay for subscriptions of sports or casual games is another.
Later — Wayne
Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital
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