Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

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Cynopsis: DIGITAL


Good morning, it’s Tuesday, March 31, 2009, and this is your first early morning digital briefing. 

Walt Disney Co. announced a far-reaching agreement with YouTube to launch multiple ad-supported channels featuring clips and other short-form content from ESPN and the Disney/ABC Television empire including ABC Entertainment, ABC News, ABC Family and SOAPnet. Under the terms of the deal Disney Media Networks will have the option to sell its own ad inventory to the content, the traditional model, or take advantage of Google’s more innovative approaches. ESPN’s video player will be integrated on its YouTube channel to showcase sports highlights and Sportscenter clips but apparently full episodes will not be part of the offering. No word yet on whether or not this deal will take the place of joining the Hulu venture.


On the other side of the world Google expanded its free music search service in China adding songs from all 4 major labels, Sony Music, Warner Music, EMI and Universal Music. Originally launched last August with a current catalog of 350,000 ad-supported songs, the catalog will expand to include downloads of up to 1.1 million MP3 tracks.  The deal is a move to combat Baidu’s dominance in the search market in China, which has gained a 62% market share in part by linking to P2P sites that offer free illegal music downloads.
Paramount Digital Entertainment and French producer-distributor Gaumont are teaming up to produce a 12-episode online series in the vein of LG15 that will premiere exclusively on MySpace in the fall. Another elimination whodunit, “Section 8,” is a supernatural thriller whose characters are knocked off one by one as viewers try to guess who is trying to kill them and why. MySpace will also serve as the social hub of the series, offering users the chance to interact with characters and participate in the storyline.
EchoStar’s Sling Media signed a deal with children’s video entertainment producer HIT Entertainment to provide free access to a number of HIT shows on the Sling.com video portal. Shows such as Thomas The Tank Engine, Barney and Bob The Builder will be featured. Sling.com offers channels from more than 130 content partners.
Myvideorights.com has signed a three-year worldwide deal to distribute, monetize and monitor over 200 hours of short-form programs for BBC Motion Gallery, a division of BBC Worldwide.


Interactive web studio EQAL signed a licensing deal with Nagoya-based Japanese ad agency Shinto Tsushin to distribute LG15 and Kate Modern throughout Japan. Shinto Tsushin will distribute versions of both shows dubbed in Japanese then produce and distribute a culturally adapted of lonelygirl15 that will take place in Japan. EQAL stuck a similar deal with Polish producers Agora and A2 Multimedia.



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Online advertising revenues eked out another record in 2008 totaling $23.4 billion (an increase of 10.6% from 2007,) according to an annual report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Q4 revenues topped $6 billion last year, a first for the industry in a single quarter. Search remained the central driver of revenue growth, showing a 19.8% increase over 2007 and increasing its share to 45% of overall online ad revenue. Meanwhile Digital video – still a small part of the pie – more than doubled from $324 million last year to $734 million in 2008.
Online Internet Ad Revenues, 2007 vs. 2008 as Share of Revenue
                                         FY 2008 Share of revenue     FY 2007 Share of revenue
                                                  $’s (000)                             $’s (000)      
Search                                    45% ($10,546)                    42% ($8,805)
Display Related:                      33% ($7,640)                      33% ($7,072)
    -Banner Ads                        21% ($4,877)                      21% ($4,456)
    -Rich Media                           7% ($1,642)                       8% ($1,656)
    -Digital Video                         3% ($734)                          2% ($324)
    -Sponsorship                         2% ($387)                           3% ($636)
Classifieds                               14% ($3,174)                      16% ($3,321)
Referrals/Lead Generation          7% ($1,683)                        7% ($1,584)
E-mail                                      2% ($405)                            2% ($424)
Source: IAB/PwC
The Weather Channel released an update to its popular iPhone app (3 million + downloads to date) with an expandable advertiser page, accessible as a full-page presentation without closing the application. Tap on a banner ad from sponsors such as allergy medicine Zyrtec to see a full page banner ad offering click to call, video or web browser links.


Expect this to be an ongoing trend as media companies look to reduce overhead. Tribune announced it is consolidating operations of the Hartford Courant newspaper and two Connecticut TV stations WTIC-TV and WTXX-TV. Richard Graziano, GM of both stations, has been named Publisher of the newspaper, effective immediately, and is charged with placing broadcast and print operations under a single roof later this year. WTIC and WTTX will also both begin broadcasting from a single HD studio located within the Courant newsroom.
As part of its Project Infinity strategy Comcast is fast at work at consolidating its video-on-demand infrastructure into two huge regional server farms enabling the MSO to store more content and eventually roll out an effective VOD ad platform, per Multichannel News.
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban found a new medium with which to express his anger at NBA officials – Twitter. He was fined $25,000 on Friday by league officials for his tweets. His response? “Can’t say no one makes money from Twitter now.” The whole affair also led the tech billionaire to wonder whether or no Tweets are copyrightable.
Beginning April 26 Netflix users will have to pay a much steeper premium to rent Blu-ray titles. Instead of a $1 across-the-board fee currently in place, extra Blu-ray surcharges will range from $2 for the 1 DVD out-at-a-time plan to $9 for the 8 DVDs out-at-a-time plan.


Bravo‘s emerging media initiatives have helped the network increase its digital footprint on a number of fronts, according to the network. Bravo’s WAP site has posted record numbers and increased participation, with monthly page views increasing 255% since Sept., citing Omniture SiteCatalyst. Live mobile chats for The Real Housewives of Orange County finale and the premier of its New York City-based spinoff helped increase mobile participation by 86% during programs that implemented Bravo’s InfoFrame technology. Online Bravo Digital racked up a record 3.58 million uniques and 2.27 million video streams in Feb. according to Omniture.


EchoStar’s Technologies and Sling Media units unveiled the EchoStar T2200S, the first “SlingLoaded” HD DVR released for the cable industry capable of porting recorded TV, DVR and VOD content to variety of broadband-connected devices. The set-top will come loaded with a 1TB hard drive and, as it’s tru2way-based, will be capable of running Sling’s SlingGuide middleware. It’s hard to believe your local MSO will be in a rush to deploy this but cable card interoperability may mean you can purchase one yourself at the retail level.
Zodiac Interactive
will demo a new tru2way-based iTV Move Guide app at the Cable Show this week, utilizing movie data feeds from Macrovision Data Solutions to provide a wealth of cross-referenced information. The guide offers navigation through movie descriptions, cast and credits, actor information, etc. and even includes a recommendation engine suggesting similar titles.
ActiveVideo Networks is also showcasing a number of third-party applications at the show ready for MSOs to deploy including: one that monitors and controls any webcam from a standard cable set-top box; one that provides use of a viewer’s iPhone to toggle interactive television search; as well as navigation and microblogging applications providing access to Twitter and Facebook from any digital set-top box.
Major League Baseball, the first sports league out of the gate with an iPhone app that offered real-time scoring and video highlights, introduced a new version yesterday. MLB.com At Bat 2009 adds live Gameday Audio feeds of every regular season and playoff game without blackout restrictions. The cost is $10 and yes – you have to buy it again even if you purchased last year’s app.
AT&T unveiled 6 new text and email-focused devices at CTIA yesterday built around some of the best in class communications apps. The super slim Nokia E71x, based on S60 on Symbian OS, looks to be the most powerful offering 3G, a 3.2 MP camera, Wi-Fi connectivity, Microsoft Exchange synching and access to AT&T’s video sharing service. It also supports AT&T’s CV video service as well as XM satellite radio. Other new models slated for release in the coming weeks include the Samsung Propel Pro, the Samsung Impression, the LG Xenon, the LG Neon and the Samsung Magnet.


Microsoft hired away yet another Yahoo executive. This time Dayne Sampson, VP of Operations at Yahoo since 2006, will serve at the company’s Global Foundation Services division supporting MSN and Windows Live, per All Things Digital. He reports to Debra Chrapaty, the division’s corporate VP.
Online publishing platform Associated Content hired former Chief Marketing Officer at CBS Interactive Patrick Keane as its new CEO. Prior to joining CBS Patrick spent more than four years at Google as head of advertising sales strategy building marketing plans and relationships with major brand advertisers.
Tom MacIsaac
has been named CEO of digital video software provider ExtendMedia. Tom has served on the company’s Board of Directors since March 2008, and most recently held the position of CEO at IP video infrastructure provider Lightningcast.
Two AOL sites hired a series of journalists away from other online and print publications. AOL’s style and beauty site StyleList.com named former AP lifestyle editor Diane Davis as Director overseeing all content development for StyleList.com. Sarah Cristobal becomes Senior Fashion Editor after serving as founding editor of Harper’s Bazaar‘s Bazaar.com. Former editorial manager at Sephora.com Laura Kenney was named Beauty Editor. FanHouse, launched in Jan. as AOL MediaGlow’s main sports destination, also hired a slew of writers including Chicago Sun-Times columnist Greg Couch; Santa Rosa Press Democrat writer Jeff Fletcher; Newark Star-Ledger beat writers Dan Graziano and Ed Price; Comcast Sports Net Bay Area analyst Matt Steinmetz; and Msnbc.com and ESPN.com editor Sunny Wu.
Lifetime Networks has named Lindsay Drewel as VP/Publicity and Talent Relations and Les Eisner as VP/Corporate Communications, both reporting to Josh Sabarra, SVP of Corporate Communications and Publicity. The will help oversee communication efforts for Lifetime Television, Lifetime Movie Network and Lifetime Digital. 


One way for YouTube to woo Disney and other premium content providers is to clean up its act in terms of navigation and presentation. The Google site is planning to do just that on April 16, according to ClickZ, adopting a now-familiar four-tab layout that will clearly separate premium movies, music and shows from its bread-and-butter UGC content. The redesign would give advertisers a much safer haven in which to serve their in-stream ads. But the YouTube player would maintain Google’s approach of emphasizing contextual, targeted advertising rather than the traditional TV model of individual show sponsorship. This evolutionary step for YouTube is probably inevitable if Google is ever going to effectively monetize its category-leading traffic. But as evidenced in the backlash Facebook is dealing with, it must tread carefully to avoid fatal loss of street cred. Stupid, silly, edgy and controversial videos – the kind that make advertisers uncomfortable – are exactly what folks to come to YouTube for.
Later — Wayne
 Wayne Karrfalt for Cynopsis: Digital

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JOB OPENING: SR. DIR, CLIENT DVLPMNT/NY/PostHouse & Production Co.5+yrs. exp.Dvlp new/expand existing biz for Brdcst & Cable clients. Req’s: must have existing relationships in Brdcst & Cable Vertical. [email protected] (4/4)

JOB OPENING: BRAND RESEARCH MANAGER/ DIY NETWORK/ Knoxville, TN: Develops, analyzes, & interprets research. 5 yrs exp in market research at a TV network/ studio. Nielsen exp required. www.scrippsnetwroks.com, #388 (4/4)

JOB OPENING: NTL SALES REP/ Documentary Channel/NYC: Immediate opening for Nat Sales Rep w/ deep contacts/exp. Pure commission at generous rate. Path to FT w/health bens. Emmy-winning net. Apply: [email protected] (4/4)

JOB OPENING: ACCT EXEC/KSBI-TV/Oklahoma City/ the new THUNDER TV: Maximize relationships w/ existing clients, dvlp new bus., presentation writing, & involvement in promotional projects & commercial prod. Res: [email protected] (4/4)

JOB OPENING:VP, BUSINESS & LEGAL AFFAIRS/AMC/NY: Deal Maker to Negotiate production/programming/talent agreements etc. for AMC NETWORK. L.A. Contacts, JD, 10+ yrs experience required. [email protected] (4/2)

JOB OPENING: DIGITAL MEDIA ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE/Discovery Communications/New York: Sell national advertising across Discovery’s Digital assets- online, vod, mobile. 2+ yrs digital sales exp required. Apply: www.discovery.com Req#8869 (4/1)


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SUMMER INTERNSHIP/CREDITS ONLY: ScribbleTown.com needs a web dvlopng intern for a Flash/HTML website. You would come in once or twice a wk to upload images & make adjustments. Great exp with fun content! Contact Arlene at [email protected] (4/1)

SITUATION WANTED ADS, POSTED BY THOSE LOOKING TO BE HIRED …  There is no charge for placing your Situation Wanted ad … for more information contact Trish Pihonak at [email protected]

SITUATION WANTED: EXPERIENCED ASSOCIATE PRODUCER most recently with PBS seeks work at production company or network. Full-time or Freelance. [email protected] (4/7)

SITUATION WANTED: PRODUCER/WRITER/DIRECTOR: Network/cable exp. in reality, doc, talk, development, and acclaimed film trailers. Solid storyteller in field thru post, concept to delivery. Versatile, great attitude! [email protected] (4/7)

SITUATION WANTED: LICENSING SHOW PR: Trades, consumer business stories, new property launches. 20 years corporate and agency consumer product/licensing experience. [email protected] (4/7)

SITUATION WANTED: Experienced Sponsorship/Events/Marketing: NYC based.4 + yrs experience in sponsorships & events at Madison Square Garden and CBS TV. Seeking FT position; immediate start. Please contact [email protected] (4/7)

SITUATION WANTED: Recent Harvard grad and FREELANCE WRITER will do pretty much anything involving words and writing them. Currently writing for a Gawker blog. Hard worker, strong writer, great bargain. (NYC) [email protected] (4/7)

SITUATION WANTED: CONTRACT ADMINISTRATOR: 10 yrs exp.looking to work out of home office, or locally in Rochester, NY. Contact e-mail: [email protected] (4/7)

SITUATION WANTED: PROD ASST/COORDINATOR: Text bk editorial asst w/ TV & film intern exp & study; FCP, video, photo, admin, & complex coffee order skills. Great attitude & flexibility, creative problem solver, fast good work. [email protected] (4/4)

SITUATION WANTED: Recent Harvard grad and FREELANCE WRITER will do pretty much anything involving words and writing them. Currently writing for a Gawker blog. Hard worker, strong writer, great bargain. (NYC) [email protected] (4/4)

SITUATION WANTED: FREELANCE VIDEO EDITING (LA) Valley artist with 5 years web video experience, has MAC with Final Cut Suite. For resume and more information, email Steve Porus at [email protected] (4/4)

SITUATION WANTED: PRODUCTION MAKEUP ARTIST/NY: Over 20 years experience including keying top-rated network and cable TV shows, print, and film. Creative artistry, competitive rates. Email: [email protected] (4/2)

SITUATION WANTED: 5 PRIME TIME EMMYS/ DOC. PROD, DIR., WRITER in L.A. Credits: National Geo, PBS, Discovery, History CH, TLC and MSNBC. Contact email: [email protected] (4/1)

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 (4/1)

SITUATION WANTED: PRODUCER-WRITER, SHOWRUNNER/NY w/org. series on PBS, Nick, Noggin, Fox, Discovery Kids, BBC.20+yrs developing, writing, producing & making co-pro and merch deals. [email protected] (4/1)

SITUATION WANTED: MEDIA PRO 15 yrs experience in network buying, product integration and multi-media promotions. LA based, available for freelance, project-based or permanent position. Thanks for your time! Contact [email protected] (4/1)

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