Thursday, June 18th, 2009


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Cynopsis: DIGITAL


Good morning, it’s Thursday, June 18, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. 

Following the huge spike in internet and social networking use around the controversial Iranian Elections, the Iranian government is resorting to draconian methods to quell the online protests: slowing bandwidth speeds, blocking access to sites and even cutting off cell phone coverage in an effort to hamper the flow of information. Online measurement service Trendrr, which aggregates traffic data from popular social networks, blogs and video sites using raw data directly from the companies’ servers, published some startling figures leading up to the blockade. “Iran” mentions peaked at over 220,000 posts/hour. There were 2.3 million new blog posts about Iran and another 3,133 new Iran-related video posted on YouTube. However now YouTube says it is receiving just 10% of its normal traffic levels. The site points out that it is not YouTube responsible for the censorship – the violent acts portrayed in many of the videos fall under the exceptions of “educational, documentary, or scientific value.”

will throw out the first pitch live video streaming of baseball games on the iPhone tomorrow for users of the popular $10 At Bat application. (Live streaming requires the new 3.0 operating system, which is free for iPhone users and costs $10 for the iPod touch.) MLB will not charge for the new feature initially, according to the NYTimes, but given the price of the packages ($70-$90/season,) the grace period won’t last.
In more baseball news, Comcast brokered a deal with the Boston Red Sox to bring New England cable customers bonus BoSox programming on demand. Accessible via On Demand’s “Get Local” category, content includes team news, profiles of past and current players and season recaps as far back as the 1050’s. (Sorry, no actual games.)
is expanding its interactive television coverage of the US Open starting today, offering a four-screen “HD Mix” mosaic channel featuring three extra channels of additional live and taped coverage to compliment the main feeds on ESPN and NBC. Interactive services, available by pressing the red button on the remote, include a look at the leader board with the ability to select any golfer for in-depth stats. DirecTV will bring enhanced iTV coverage to all 4 golf majors this year.


Los Angeles-based eye candy purveyor Ripe Digital joined the list of digital programming start-ups to go bust as the company seeks a buyer for its assets, per Deadline Hollywood. Male-oriented Ripe Digital was founded in 2004 with over $40 million in funding from Hearst Television, Time Warner, Columbia Capital and others as both an online and VOD production outfit.
The much more altruistic Zoosa is a new web-based social networking play designed to spur interest in the social enterprise sector. The site aggregates news entries, planned actions or ideas and social impact-themed tweets focused on community development, education, government and the environment, including alternative energy/clean-tech start-ups. A comprehensive job/volunteering board is searchable by issue, job, location and management level.
Online invitation service Pingg unveiled a new Designer Series of curated independent graphic designs for use as e-cards and paper invitations. Artists include Erni Vales, Yenty Jap and Christina Entcheva.

CNET’s long-running tech-themed Buzz Out Loud podcast is hosting a special live show this morning at 10:30 am to commemorate its 1,000th episode. Some of the show’s former stars will join the show including former show producer Veronica Belmont.
The U.S. State Department unveiled the 6 winners of its inaugural YouTube Democracy Video Challenge. The contest received over 900 submissions from 95 different countries. There are some creative entries here. The winners receive an all expenses paid trip to New York, D.C., and Hollywood.


35+ Sessions/200+ Decision Makers/45+ Catchers
Greg Berlanti, EP, “Brothers & Sisters”
Jordan Hoffner, Dir., Content Partnerships, YouTube
Steven Levitan, EP/Creator, Modern Family
JD Roth, CEO/Co-Founder, 3Ball Prods.
Innovator Award  Honoring “The Biggest Loser”
Real tools, real access, real pitches …for real producers.
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Contextual ad networking technology is increasingly being used to distribute content across the web. Tribune Media Services launched the TMS Branded Media Network, a new content/distribution network to deliver Tribune newspaper columns to smaller sites. The writings of columnists such as Wolfgang Puck, Arianna Huffington and Liz Smith will be syndicated and monetized with contextually relevant advertising, sold and distributed using Adify‘s vertical ad networks. The TMS Branded Media Network will reach some 200 ad networks and 12,000 publishers via the Adify platform.


Reactions are mixed to the UK government’s just-released 250-page Digital Britain report, the nation’s much ballyhooed roadmap to beef up the UK’s broadband, telecom and media infrastructure to help it compete in the digital age. Plans include broadening and speeding up broadband access to at least 2 Mbps by 2012, cracking down on piracy, upgrading analog radio to digital and blanketing the country with 3G mobile infrastructure. A broadband tax of £6/year will be levied against every household with telephone line to help fund a £200 million war chest to upgrade existing networks.
has acquired image recognition mobile marketing company SnapTell via subsidiary SnapTell’s Snap.Send.Get solution delivers real-time reviews, prices and product info from advertisers and retailers to mobile consumers through direct uploads of print flyers, billboards and product packaging. 
AT&T announced plans to upgrade its upper tier high-speed internet customers from 10 Mbps to 12 Mbps and introduce new DVR management and VOD features for its U-Verse TV service. A new application will enable U-verse TV customers to view On Demand recommendations based on their past video rental history and view a list of the top ten On Demand titles U-verse TV customers are renting.
CBS’s portal announced a integration with Tivo allowing the DVR’s users to search for and schedule show recordings directly from the site. has reported steady monthly gains in unique users (up 15% in May), visits (+18%) and minutes (+25%) since relaunching the site as video viewing destination.
Google said it is finally testing SSL (Secured Sockets Layer) encrypting to use as the default mode for its popular Gmail service. Consumer advocate groups such as Consumer Watchdog have long argued that consumers shouldn’t have to opt in to receive such protections.


Good news for iPhone owners­-AT&T has reversed its policy saying it will allow some iPhone owners to upgrade to the new 3G S model for the $199 new customers price when it comes out on Friday. Folks who’ve owned their iPhones for 12-18 months and pay at least $100 in monthly fees qualify for the deal. Some of the 3G S’s features include a 3 megapixel camera, voice-control features, 30-frames/second video recording and a built-in Compass (to go with Cinn Dev’s popular Car Finder app.)
If you can’t beat ’em join ’em. Sirius XM Radio is launching an iPhone/iPod Touch app today that will give users access to the satellite’s firm subscription programming. The app will be free for existing Sirius customers (who pay about $13/mo.) and will cost an incremental $3/month for non-subscribers – an option for app makers in the new iPhone 3.0 environment. Although the iPhone has been seen as a Sirius XM killer – providing content like sporting event audio without the monthly subscription – the move should help the troubled service survive given the platform’s quickly growing footprint. (Apple has sold more than 40 million iPhone and iPod Touches to date.)
Disney’s Consumer Products division is teaming with netbook maker ASUS to release a new spill-proof, kid friendly laptop that ships with upgraded parental control options and is pre-loaded with software and content aimed at 6-12 year olds. The Disney Netpal netbook, which comes in “Magic Blue” or “Princess Pink,” features an 8.9-inch LCD display, Wi-Fi capabilities and runs off of the Windows XP Home OS. Disney characters walk kids through popular applications including a web browser and email. A Radio Disney widget streams music and offers multimedia management from the desktop. The kiddie laptop is set to retail at outlets including Toys ‘R Us and for $349.99.


Portland, OR-based VOD measurement specialist Rentrak hired former Experian executive Bill Livek as its new CEO, replacing Paul Rosenbaum who will remain the firm’s Chairman.
Freedom Communications
named independent director Burl Osborne as its Interim CEO, replacing Scott Flanders who resigned to take the CEO post at Playboy Enterprises. Burl was publisher of the Dallas Morning News in the 1990s and has served on Freedom’s Board of Directors since May 2004.
Tim Rottach has joined Metacafe as Head of UK content, based in London. Tim most recently served as Director of Content Strategy and Acquisition for Joost.


For years now Microsoft has been accused of following rather than leading in the technology space. (Let’s not tick off the examples here, but we can all think of a dozen off the top of our heads.) Redmond’s new Bing search engine has finally brought innovation to the marketplace and users are responding by returning again and again to the service. Two weeks into its launch Bing has boosted Microsoft’s search share by about 3% points according to ComScore. Instead of’s white space approach, Bing adds some Bling, introducing a new glossy photo everyday embedded with interesting factoids and blurbs related to the picture. Categories such as Travel, Shopping, Health and Videos cut down on useless search results. A number of TV shows, music videos and news clips are featured as a curating tool. (All the TV shows seem to link to Hulu at the moment.) Microsoft has been particularly clever in baking in e-commerce applications into Bing, which add additional revenue streams. The shopping app, tied to a cashback program, pulls up product reviews alongside of search results. A cool new Farecast travel prediction tool analyzes pricing trends to postulate whether or not the fare price is likely to go up. Some of the navigation is clunky but all-in-all this is a winner for Microsoft.
Later — Wayne
 Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital

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JOB OPENING: FORECASTING ANALYST/MTVN/NYC: 1-2yrs exp budget models & finance or ad sales pricing/inventory. Must have advanced Excel and strong analytical skills. EOE/M/F/D/AAP. Apply (6/25)

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JOB OPENING: SR ONLINE ADVRTSNG ANALYST/ Interactive Media Group/NY: Exp. Forecast/mng online inv./ ad hoc reporting/comm of inventory landscape. , Req ID# 188518 or [email protected]  (6/20)

JOB OPENING: SVP, MARKETING/Sundance Channel/NYC: 10+yrs cable network exp. developing brand mktng. for consumers, affiliates, sponsors, prog. etc. Strng strat. neg. & mgmt skills. Apply [email protected] (6/19)

JOB OPENING: COORDINATOR, INTEGRATED MARKETING/Nickelodeon/NYC: 2+yrs mrktg/sales exp. in mrkting/ad agency in Ent/Media, Fast paced/Strng multitasking skills, Stng Project/Time Mgmt skills EOE/M/F/D/AAP. Apply (6/19)


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SITUATION WANTED: CREATIVE SCRIPT DOCTOR with 16 yrs as Broadcast Exec/Network Story Editor can consult/edit/polish your TV or film pitch/bible/screenplay. Credits include DeGrassi, DaVinci & Dragon Boys. [email protected] (6/20)

SITUATION WANTED: COUNSEL/STDS & PRACTICES/DEV (NY/LA: IP atty w/ 15 yrs in Events, B’way, TV (CBS, MTV, Nick, Golf) looking to fuse legal knowledge w/ love of entertainment. Open to all opportunities. Email [email protected] (6/20)

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SITUATION WANTED: CREATIVE SCRIPT DOCTOR with 16 yrs as Broadcast Exec/Network Story Editor can consult/edit/polish your TV or film pitch/bible/screenplay. Credits include DeGrassi, DaVinci & Dragon Boys. [email protected] (6/19)

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